Ever more powerful portable devices increasingly enable our always on-the-go lifestyles, yet even the fastest microprocessor needs a power supply, and we find ourselves tethered to outlets in moments of repose, and (mis)managing the wires, cables and cords that serve as veritable lifelines for our power-hungry handhelds. It should come as no surprise that the backup battery industry is booming, but what about the way we reboot at home?
Instead of attempting to achieve invisibility through reduction, Youmin Vincent Kim has seen fit to hide a charger in plain sight. Jury captain Naihan Li and her team recognized the Korean designer’s SOAK Charging Side Table as the winner of the Furniture & Lighting category of the 2014 Core77 Design Awards.
Like many of us, Kim was frustrated by ad hoc solutions. “When I see designers try to combine furniture with technological devices—like cords hanging from the center of a work conference table—it ceases to look like furniture to me, or at least it’s not something you would want in your home,” Kim says. “It’s messy and unconstructed.” The only thing that betrays SOAK’s embedded functionality is its proximity to an outlet, which peeks out from a half-leg that appears to be melting into the wall.
It’s not just for show: the back leg conceals a power cord, which is connected to a wireless charging plate embedded in the tabletop. Although the plug itself fits neatly into the hollowed-out dummy leg, a short length of cord offers the flexibility to accommodate different outlet heights. Similarly, Kim is also considering international standards. “There are several types and sizes of electrical outlets depending on what country users live in. I have been working on making the plug universal so that it will work anywhere.”