Go to almost any public park or college campus, and you're likely to find a large number of people ignoring any benches in favor of lounging around on the grass. Many people enjoy relaxing in an open environment, which is almost impossible to find in a typical apartment or office building. That's why one design team recently set out to recreate that feeling of openness indoors with the Viera concept, a mat of connected cushions that can fold to form multiple places to sit.
The Texas-based design group, consisting of Sergio Aleman Jr., Umbelina Cantu, Kellee Kimbro, and Thi A. Vu, wanted to build a comfortable sitting area with a similar openness that could be altered on the fly into multiple positions. They soon decided that cushions designed to fit together into different furniture types could provide exactly what they were looking for. After experimenting with several combinations of various shapes, the group settled on making all of the cushions into equilateral triangles, which seemed to provide the most options for folding into different configurations.
For the prototype, the triangles were made of a soft polyurethane foam encasing a rigid polycarbonate backing and covered in felt fabric. Each side of the cushions measured 36 inches (91 cm), which the team determined to be an optimal size for an average person to sit on. To make the finished Viera, the triangles were sewn together into a single mat, with polycarbonate strips between them to hold them in place when folded.
Once it's laid out, the Viera can be reshaped to your liking, whether you want to recline at a specific angle, sit upright, or relax somewhere in between. And when it's combined with other Vieras, there's almost no limit to the ways an empty room could be transformed into a complete living space.
Sadly, the design team hasn't revealed any plans to turn their creation into a consumer product yet. It's too bad, since the Viera would certainly make an excellent addition to a living room, library, or any other place where people want to kick back and relax.