The Table That Could Replace Your Air Conditioner, from ZeroEnergyFurniture

Photo courtesy of wired.com

Photo courtesy of wired.com

Design team Raphaël Ménard and Jean-Sébastien Lagrange have taken on the task of addressing energy efficiency and climate control issues through furniture, with a program they call ZeroEnergyFurniture. Ménard, an architect and engineer who founded Elioth, and Lagrange, a designer and graduate of the Ecole Boulle as well as ENSCI / Les Ateliers, have designed a table made from materials which could cut air conditioning bills by 30% and heating costs by 60%. The Climactic Table is made with a wax-like substance which absorbs heat when the room temperature reaches 71.6 degrees and releases it when the room becomes colder.

The seemingly simple design – a single oak surface and angled legs – contains a layer of phase-changing materials (PCMs), which soften when temperatures heat up and harden when the surrounding environment becomes cooler. These PCMs, integrated between the wood surface and a folded sheet of anodized aluminum, allow the table to work like a “thermal sponge”, helping to regulate room temperatures. The waved aluminum provides structural rigidity and strength to the design, while fostering the exchange of thermal energy between the room and the PCMs in the table.  With air conditioners accounting for 5% of all electricity generated within the United States, furniture like the Z.E.F. Climactic Table could contribute to significant energy savings by making us less reliant on heating and cooling systems.

Photo courtesy of curbed.com

Photo courtesy of curbed.com

Image courtesy of curbed.ny.com

Image courtesy of curbed.com

Though phase-changing materials are not a new technology, Ménard and Lagrange are on the cutting edge of embedding PCMs into industrial design. In the future, they plan to develop additional furniture pieces and lighting that utilize the same concept. They displayed their Climactic Table at Milan Design Week in May, and hope to make it available for commercial retail later this year.

Photo courtesy of francedesign.eu

Photo courtesy of francedesign.eu

Also shown at Milan Design Week was a product called “Muffler,” a sound muffler that doubles as a storage unit. This device, made by Normal Studio, is covered in absorbent foam rubber that reduces noise pollution. MuscarLights presented their Fluffy Lights, which are energy-efficient lights covered in a fluffy coating that allows them to be held and enjoyed for their warmth. It is a great thing to see Z.E.F. and the increasing trend of making homes more energy efficient, sustainable, and comfortable through interior design.

If you’re interested in keeping tabs on Ménard and Lagrange’s work, check out the ZeroEnergyFurniture website.

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