As aesthetics and technology begin to parallel each other in terms of importance, one of the biggest emerging trends is USB furniture. It’s practical, convenient and becoming more and more of a necessity every day. Even as battery technology for smartphones improves, keeping devices charged can feel like a losing game. And charging more than an arm’s distance away can feel akin to torture in our technology-addicted society.
From Hotels To Home
Commercial grade hotel furniture was one of the first categories to integrate USB ports. From lamps to nightstands, it was only a matter of time before USB ports would find their way to consumer-grade furniture. From beds to high-end sofas and even customized home theatre seating, what some might just assume is another bell or whistle, is getting closer to becoming a standard option. Los Angeles interior designer Elizabeth Aaron caught onto this trend several years ago and begin to integrate USB ports not only into the hardwiring of the homes she was renovating but also the furniture. One example is a home theatre she designed using Comfort Design’s Double Take sectional. “These are helpful because the lights, draperies, and television are all controlled on an iPad. An added benefit is that there are no dangling cables stretching across the room, to the nearest outlet. So, nobody is going to trip if they get up to make popcorn,” she says.
Bobby Berk’s Eye For The Trend
Queer Eye’s Bobby Berk recently launched a signature furniture line in collaboration with A.R.T. Furniture, available on AllModern. While not every piece features a USB port, several items do. This includes the Wenck Nightstand, which has hidden ports behind the back of the drawer. With walnut wood and black accents, it’s a beautifully designed piece. The USB is really just the icing on the cake.
Wayfair, which is AllModern’s parent company, carries a range of furniture and accessories featuring integrated USBs. Cate McGlynn, category manager and entertainment furniture expert shares that this trend isn’t going away any time soon. “As technology continues to advance, we are seeing more and more end tables and nightstands include USB ports to accommodate the modern customer who is focused on convenience and connectivity to their smartphones and devices. We’ve also seen select headboards and beds include them,” she explains.
However, this is really just the beginning. “If this rising trend is any indication of what’s to come, we anticipate USBs will become more mainstream and will eventually be standard in key home furnishings,” McGlynn says. Wayfair’s Storage Platform bed which features a hidden USB on the side of the headboard, is a perfect example of this integration. A close second is the Succulent Plant Holder. Keeping it on top of a desk might be one solution to the search for balance.
Coddle, which is known for its leather USB sofas and chairs, released a new modular USB sofa in October. This brand has truly created a niche. “Our approach to design is consistent with consumer trends and the need for solution-driven concepts that are delivered with intuitive grace and ease,” Coddle founder and CEO, Sean Pathiratne tells me.
“In a world surrounded by innovation, we noticed a consistent lack of compelling advancements at the intersection of furniture and technology. Homes have been shrinking, and people need their furniture to do more than just sit there. At Coddle, our mission is to match basic human needs with smart products that deliver beyond aesthetic. Consumers want to be constantly plugged in and connected, and Coddle’s integration of power outlets and USBs into its furniture allows them to do that seamlessly,” he says.
Room and Board’s Perfect Parsons
While a nightstand is a good place for a USB port, a home office desk brings it to the next level. One of the most stylish options is the contemporary Parsons desk from Room and Board. It has hidden USB and electrical outlets on a choice of the right or left leg. While wires are impossible to avoid, this design (and using a cord taco) can keep imposition at a minimum. In addition to the desk, Room and Board also has several other pieces including the $3000 custom Wynton Recliner.
Building It In
For new homes and renovations, having built-in USB ports in addition to regular outlets is becoming standard. “I have my electrician install duplex receptacles with integrated USB ports in my clients’ kitchens, bedsides, islands, and bathrooms since everyone has something to charge via USB these days,” shares Aaron.
However, while this technology can make us feel even more connected to our devices, the designer has an innovative approach to allow quite the opposite. She suggests her clients build charging stations into cabinets for device-free dinners. And while she worries about eventual obsolesce, Aaron isn’t holding her breath. “I realize the world will be eventually migrating to wireless charging pads but until that happens across the board (I think it will take around five years), USB is still king.” One factor the designer notes is the importance of only buying Qi-Certified outlets. Although they are pricier, a poorly wired outlet can lead to electrical fires. “There’s a lot of junk [being imported from foreign countries] and if the USB port isn’t Qi certified, it could actually prove dangerous or fail altogether.”