Some things in life don’t change. You sleep in the bedroom, cook in the kitchen, and eat in the dining room. And these rooms can be found in every house.

“When we buy a house, it was usually built 50 or 100 years ago,” says New York designer Todd Bracher. “It wasn’t designed for us.”

We put dining chairs in the dining room, because that is what one does…. But Bracher is turning these rules inside out and building a house that is different.

Bracher’s house does not have a bedroom with a bed in it. There is something like a kitchen, where books stand on the shelves alongside the spices, and there is a reading lamp by the sink.

“Food for the body and soul”, is how the designer describes it. There is no bathroom, but there is certainly a shower – outside, in front of the house. “The aim is to get back in touch with nature,” Bracher says.

The designer house is not – yet – for living in. Rather, it was an exhibit at the recent International Interiors Show (IMM) in Cologne, Germany, which commissions a designer every year to come up with a living space that challenges ideas about living and to build it, complete with furniture.

In modern living, rooms that previously had clearly demarcated functions are starting to flow into each other.

“The traditional subdivision between living room, bedroom, and kitchen no longer exists,” says Germany-based industrial designer Steffen Kehrle during a presentation at the IMM.

The same applies to furniture: “Furniture must adapt to the user’s demands, and not the other way round.”

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Books shelved with spices and reading lamps next to the sink – Bracher wants to challenge conventional ideas about how we use spaces in a house.

An example is the idea of the sofa with two matching armchairs facing the television. This standard setup is now complemented by the chaise longue, long chair, divan, ottoman, and many other variations.

The variety is reflected in Bracher’s house, although in simplified form. The aim is to pare down the complexity of contemporary living to its basic functions.

An example is the quiet room in Bracher’s house – dark but without a bed. Instead, there is a couch for lying down, and a chair and a floor cushion, allowing for a range of activities – simply relaxing, daydreaming, meditating. After all, the modern home can be designed to adapt to our needs. – dpa/Julia Naue