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Brief Published: 27 Jan 2016

Imm Cologne 2016: Tool-Free Furniture Construction

L-R: Qlick, Pazls

The demand for easy-to-build furniture continues to grow as consumers seek affordable designs that can be taken apart as needed (see Flat-Pack Futures for more). At Imm Cologne, we spotted two new tool- and adhesive-free solutions for simple assembly and disassembly.

Qlick is an innovative construction method inspired by traditional wood-joining techniques. Developed by three students from RWTH Aachen University in Germany, 3D-printed plastic clips are used to fasten CNC-manufactured wooden pieces together, although the team suggest injection moulding could replace 3D printing for mass manufacturing.

The plastic clip locks into place to create a strong structure in a similar way to a wooden pin in conventional joinery. However, the flexibility of the plastic enables the clip to be easily removed to deconstruct the furniture. The team showcased stools and shelving units at the show, but the component has potential for a wide range of furniture applications.

Pazls is a modular furniture system that uses magnets to enable simple construction and rearrangement without the need for tools. As the panels are brought together, a magnet in the side edge pulls out a metal pin in the opposing face – the pin snaps into the according notch to create a secure joint. To release the structure, the user simply pushes the panel upwards to break the joint – a spring surrounding the metal pin pulls it back into the panel for a seamless design.

The panels can be composed into multiple configurations, including shelving, sideboards, desks and drawers. For more examples of how magnets are being used in product design, see Magnetic Potential.

Adaptable furniture suits the nomadic lifestyles of the generation of renters previously identified in Design Democracy: Shift. For more on designing to suit changing consumer needs and lifestyles, see Modern Family: The Evolving Domestic Landscape.

See our full coverage of IMM Cologne for more highlights from the show.