As population growth rates continue to rise at a worrying rate, concerns for adequate housing are a constant topic of discussion. And this population growth is often accompanied by rampant urbanization as increasing numbers of people choose to migrate from more rural areas into the larger towns and cities looking for a employment and a better quality of life. As these urban areas struggle to accommodate such large numbers of people, new housing has sprung up quicker than ever before. To make the most of the available space in city centres, town planners, developers and architects are building an increasing number of apartments on decreasing plots meaning our homes are getting smaller and smaller with every year that passes. In order to address this lack of space in city centre apartments and transform the way that we live, Simon Woodroffe, the English entrepreneur and millionaire founder of Yo! Sushi and Yotel, has developed a new concept for flexible living.
Yo! Home is a revolutionary and pioneering living space concept that was launched at 100% Design London in September 2012. Using £300,000 of his own money, Woodroffe has created the prototype for an intelligently designed and thoughtful living space that draws on a wealth of engineering technology taken from fields as diverse as yacht and automotive design and the mechanics of theatre stage production. At eighty square metres, the prototype space mimics the footprint of a standard one bedroom apartment, and yet offers unprecedented and luxuriously spacious living. At the pull of a wall, the opening of a floor or the press of a button, the space provides: a master bedroom suite; a second bedroom; a sunken sitting room; a cinema; a dining room; an office; a full size kitchen; a breakfast room; a bathroom/spa; a party room; a wine cellar, and additional hidden storage. Freshome caught up with Woodroffe to find out more about his attempts to revolutionize the way we live.
At 100% Design in London in September, you launched a pioneering and intuitive living space known as Yo! Home. What made you decide to extend the Yo! brand into residential interiors? You’ve eaten in YO! Sushi, slept in YOTEL and I like the idea of you living in YO! Homes. Homes have never really been re- invented and I wanted to see if I could do that. I have watched Virgin expand into a million things and then come back to a few, and Easy have never been successful in many and so over the years my plan has become to do few things well and with quantum leap innovation. I do believe that if we can build YO! Home buildings and have three hits under the YO! brand then there will be more to follow, but the first three are the hardest. Remember we have not always succeeded – we closed the three YO! Below bars to focus on building out YO! Sushi of which more than 100 have now opened – YO Below with its self serve beer, smoke extracting ash trays in the day, floor seating and singing waitresses with DJ’s, I consider having been a success and in time may rear their head again I hope. YO! Japan we got wrong – YO! is about innovative built things not fashion, at least not for now. And The YO! Zone, my spa concept destined for Battersea Power Station, is still, like the powerstation itself, not off the ground.
Yo! Home aims to transform the way we live. What do you think is currently wrong with the way we live? There is nothing wrong with the way we live and many will continue to live this way for many years. But for some who want the very most out of life, making living space work for us by taking small and medium-sized spaces and making them large and extra large spaces is immensely appealing, firstly for the pure logic of it and secondly because it is a fun space to live in.
What were the main inspirations for the design of the Yo! Home? Japan is of course a big influence on me I have always loved her. I call her the last undiscovered mystery of the East as not many people have been there, especially not outside of Tokyo and the major cities. I was inspired by Japanese shoji walls, simplicity,the use of space, how things are uncluttered and I love that often outrageous innovations like sushi conveyor belts and capsule hotels are taken and accepted as normal things. YOTEL has also been an influence as has everything we learnt along the way from private jets, first class airline interiors, Yacht interiors, rock n roll tour buses, and automotive design generally. But most of all with YO! Home, I was inspired by my time in theatre designing scenery for shows, especially rock shows, and the mechanics of modern stage scenery. Moving parts in kitchens are the smoothest and most advanced examples so our aspiration is that level of finish.
Who is Yo! Home aimed at? Who is the target audience? Well all the YO! brands aim to bring what rich people have to “everybody” by using innovation. So I start with that premise rather than a target market. At YO! Sushi, MTV kids sit next to ladies who lunch and hipsters and their children. The YOTELS cater to a very broad range of customers so I say our target market is the young at heart. The first YO! Homes will be mid- to high-end and I can imagine them being used by city singles or by husbands who work in town during the week, and maybe even the family would use it occasionally. From fashionable working couples, we will go to young professionals using the same concept in smaller spaces so that a first time buyer can get on to the ladder, and eventually down to Student pads.
With so many moving mechanics incorporated into a Yo! Home, how safe are they for families with small children? When electricity was invented the same question was asked and the same question was posed with regards to elevators. The solutions are always in the details and we are lucky to live in an age where technology is becoming more and more reliable with solutions for children’s safety everywhere. Actually the mechanics are very simple as we use counter weight so the motors are lifting very small loads. If you imagine the movements in a classy kitchen, we are talking the same touch and feel in YO! Homes.
What happens if the mechanics fail? Is there a failsafe? Counterweights are superb because they take the loads out of everything. I can lift the bed mechanism to the ceiling with one hand and in the event of a powercut that is all I would have to do to go to bed.
When and where will the first Yo! Homes be rolled out? I expect the first YO! Homes up in the next couple of years. We have yet to announce the first site but one of the great joys of being a private company is to be able to say that the exact opening date is when the first one is ready. The first YO! Homes will go up when they are ready.
Will you be living in a Yo! Home in the future? I will certainly have a YO! Home hopefully more than one, but whether that will be in New York, San Paulo, Tokyo or Manilla I’m not yet sure, but YO! Home is absolutely perfect for my traveling lifestyle … and no doubt will be a rental item in time…
All images courtesy of Yo! Home taken by Theo Cohen We know lots of our readers probably live in city apartments so we would love to get your feedback on this innovative concept? Can you see yourself living in a Yo! Home in the future? And if so, what is your favourite design feature? Leave us a comment!