Wireless charging has been around for years, but do you actually know how it works? Brands are only just beginning to reimagine how we can seamlessly integrate our smartphones with our smart homes, as well as charge our beloved devices with total ease. Among those pioneering tech-friendly side tables and chic charging office accessories is designstudio PESI, a Seoul-based studio that’s focused on reinterpreting everyday objects through a material-focused, minimalist lens.
“We wanted to design charging devices that provide a charging environment that can be naturally mixed with the living space,” Byounghwi Jeon, designstudio PESI co-founder and designer, tells Domino.
In collaboration with Samsung Creative Square, the studio recently debuted a collection of wireless-charging products (dubbed “Blend Into Space”) that give regular household objects—from a streamlined speaker to a table mirror—new purpose. While currently not for sale, their products offer a sneak peek into the future of wireless-charging furniture and its stylish potential (however, if you’re looking to buy right now, there are a few brands to choose from; see below).
Ahead, we run through the basics of wireless charging technology and offer a glimpse of the decor brands and designers who are doing it best.
How Wireless Charging (Essentially) Works
Assuming you’ve popped into a Starbucks sometime in the past four years, then you’ve probably noticed that a number of their stores have installed charging pads on the tables and countertops. If you’ve ever sat your phone down and wondered why your iPhone isn’t charging (or just straight up how the power mats work), you’re not alone.
In simple terms, wireless charging is based on the principle of magnetic resonance. An electrical current is created between two objects—one with a transmitting coil (the charging pad) and one with a receiving coil (your wireless-enabled phone)—that together create an electromagnetic field that enables a power transfer.
Wireless Charging Is…Chic
Can you envision the day when every surface in your home will double as a charger for your phone? Designstudio PESI can—and they’re not willing to skimp on style to get there, either. Their “Blend Into Space” collection encompasses two individual lines that both reinterpret the experience of using and charging mobile products through the spaces and objects we encounter each day in our homes.
“Wireless charging is a calm technology, because it doesn’t need any other interaction except putting the device on the charger” says Jeon. “We wanted to offer an environment in one perfect form of furniture to match the nature of ‘natural’ technology.”
Focused on the everyday items that often grace our tables, “On the Surface” fuses bedside accessories and catch-all containers with a flat charging landing pad. The exclusively white collection even features a flower vase-turned-charging station; a seemingly poetic ode to nature and machine’s promising future. “Composition,” on the other hand, dares to play with color—but strictly in tray form. Fit for dining, working, or displaying treasured objects, these tech-approved surfaces also double as a worthy home for your phone.
How Do I Know If My Device Is Compatible?
“Wireless charging products are compatible with any products that have a coil-type battery (mobile-phone, smart watch, speaker, etc.),” explains Jeon. When it comes to wireless charging standards, tech companies rely on two major charging brands: Qi and AirFuel. According to Field Guide, Qi has become the dominant wireless charging standard and is supported by most phones, including the latest phones from Apple, Samsung, and LG.
However, some phones like the Galaxy S8 can work with both Qi and its contender, AirFuel (formerly known as Powermat). While a number of devices are supported by AirFuel, the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and X, for example, are only compatible with Qi-enabled wireless charging stations.
Unsure about whether your device can charge wirelessly? You can see a full list of Qi-certified devices here and AirFuel-enabled products here. In the case of Starbucks, their charging stations are currently only compatible with AirFuel-supported phones. So, at least for now, you can’t sip on your macchiato while charging up your iPhone.
If you’re holding onto an older iPhone or any other device that doesn’t have a coil built in, you can still get in on the wireless action, too. Plenty of brands (including Ikea) make adapters, covers, and charging stations that will enable your phone to charge wirelessly.
Where to Buy Wireless-Charging Furniture Now
Feeling inspired to savvy-up your space? While designstudio PESI’s streamlined solutions have yet to hit production, there are a number of companies that are currently selling built-in wireless charging home goods and furniture. For starters, Ikea has been offering Qi-enabled wireless charging products for a number of years now, namely in the form of desk lamps and night stands. In addition to furniture, the Swedish retailer also sells charging pads that can be tucked away or displayed just about anywhere in the home.
Curvilux has created a smart side table that totally goes above and beyond. The bedside essential will not only charge up to three devices at one time, but it also features a motion-activated night light and a password-safe drawer that can be controlled from your phone. FoneSalesman also sells a simply-designed wireless charging side table made by FurniQi that only takes minutes to assemble.
With fresh, tech-savvy designs on the horizon, the future of interiors is shaping out to be as polished as it is practical.
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