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Grow your own furniture in 4 minutes

Posting in Design

The shape of things to come. A block or a roll of soft foam transforms into a trendy chair, table or whatever you want.

Fed up with self-assembly furniture? (I didn't say "Ikea.")

Well, if you can wait until next year, you could have the less clumsy option of quickly growing your own chair, table or whatever it is you're looking for.

No, this is not another "3D printing" story.  It's simpler than that.

Belgian designer Carl de Smet's "spaghetti polymer" will let you buy a small lump of soft foam that enlarges and transforms within minutes into sturdy, fashionable furniture after you heat it up with electricity. You just plug it in for four or five minutes, then unplug it.

The furniture works on principles of shape memory, and provides the option of reshaping.

For acronym fans, the material is called "SMPU" - shape memory polyurethane - according to the BBC. It's "smart material," that "does the work for you," says de Smet, who hopes to sell through stores by next year.

He's displaying this week at the Milan Furniture Fair. You can see how his furniture works in the YouTube video below.

Before he gets to market, de Smet will have to come up with a clever name for his product. How 'bout "Electric Chair"?

Watch de Smet grow a chair or two:

YouTube video from PeopleNewsTrack. Photo is a screen grab from the video.

— By on April 7, 2013, 8:28 PM PST

Mark Halper

Contributing Editor

Mark Halper has written for TIME, Fortune, Financial Times, the UK's Independent on Sunday, Forbes, New York Times, Wired, Variety and The Guardian. He is based in Bristol, U.K. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure