I am lounging on a sofa-bed-futon in a small city apartment, with a laptop and a tablet computer right here. The tablet computer is resting on the side shelf of a Joe Colombo boby-trolley, the top of the trolley holds a kindle, a cup of tea and the equipment I need to do all of my banking and shopping: A plastic card and a coder. I have to admit I am quite happy that this isn't one of Colombo's future homes, despite their total, and incredible, design.
Futuro! Totally unsustainable, fully in line with the energy optimism of the sixties and seventies, it takes the "total home" one step further and into a science fiction movie.
While I love the Joe Colombo trolley I own due to the many different meanings it carries - mainly a memory of a surprising visit to an exhibition in Leipzig - I love the fifties Hans Wegner dining table, the eighties Gubi Olsen postmodern couch and, the iconic bookshelves that bring the module flexibility of Colombo back to the traditional carpentry romance of the postmodern eighties, Peter Lassens Montana bookshelves. Montana even adds something a lover of the user-as-participant as me can't resist: the chance to design your own bookshelf, building it like legos.
Anyway, back to Colombo.
Joe Colombo integrated the technology deeply into his designs, as seen in the Cabriolet bed. In this bed you can be closed in and privat with your technology. Technology becomes intimate, no longer something for the public space or workshop only, but a bed partner. Today he wouldn't have bothered with the radio and television though, he'd have gone straight for the computer with its endless options for media integration. The Cabriolet of today would have been wired, the temperature and fan computer controlled, the bed set with sensors to let you monitor your sleep. There would have been handsfree or hands on options for computer and telephone, controlled by magical touch-screens, voice or motion. And when he got out of the bed he'd have removed the phone or tablet from its cradle, and brought the whole set-up of connections with him, able to easily plug it into any other similar bed. Total personalisation but at the same time totally mobile: mass-production, total living space design and the miniatured storage of information. The Cabriolet bed was a step towards the connection machine/human, a sleeping space fit for cyborgs.
The futuristic dreams of the sixties were already dying in the seventies. The Futuro ski-cabin eminently demonstrates why: It needs to be connected somehow to electricity, water and waste, it is very costly to move and the material was not yet sufficiently tested to know if it would last. Which, in many cases, it didn't. The UFO did not have what it would take to give it wings. But despite the post-modern backlash in the eighties, when all styles mixed and it was all about reaching back to show the roots of design rather than deliberately breaking with them, the futuristic dreams had been accepted. We were expecting technology to invade the most intimate of spaces and to come with us everywhere. The urban nomads, as conceptualised by Deleuze and Guittari and described by for instance Cresswell in his article in the anthology Space and Social Theory do not move the living space with them, but instead bring along the technology which allows for easy movement from one dock to the next, connecting their network rather than parking their travellers' camper.
I just move my lovely red trolley from one room to the next, and not between cities or countries. But I do carry a phone or a computer, because I live, at times, like an urban nomad, travelling from one connection to the next. I am however even more liberated from the trappings surrounding me than the total designers of the futures past believed we would be. I don't need to break with the past through recreating the entire environment, because I am carrying the most radical break with time and space with me, in my pocket.
And I am certain Joe Colombo would have loved it, and created a design to rival anything Apple are able to come up with. Hopefully something bright, exuberant and one step further into a cyberromantic life.