A China cabinet, and a bookcase with secretaire. Designed by Thomas Sheraton

The Roentgens’ Berlin Secretary Cabinet (video 2:20) – hidden features and intricate interior of this cabinet. A writing cabinet with a chiming clock, it features finely designed marquetry panels and elaborate mechanisms that allow for doors and drawers to be opened automatically at the touch of a button. It is remarkable for its ornate decoration and mechanical complexity.

What’s the problem?
Magnetic Assisted Geometry furniture (video 1:12) – flatpack, no-tools-required. Shipping furniture unassembled is more economical and more environmentally friendly. But flat-packed furniture is often made from low-grade material and its assembly is far from straightforward. Assembling ‘MAG’ (Magnetic Assisted Geometry) furniture is easy, takes minutes, and requires no tools. The furniture, made from steel and wood, snaps together with the help of powerful magnets. It can be assembled and disassembled without losing its initial structural integrity. This means you can take it apart if you are moving or selling it on. And replacing parts is easy since they come right off and reattach with the same ease.

  • Ask – Some people have problems assembling furniture that is sold as flat pieces with instructions. How would furniture be designed to ship flat and be easy to assemble without tools or complicated instructions?
  • Imagine – How could the furniture pieces be attached for normal home use? What are some strong bonds? How would these be adapted for furniture?
  • Plan, Create – Most people don’t think of using magnets for assembling furniture, but it works. Clever designs incorporate materials and magnetic fasteners for sturdy for attractive, functional, moveable furniture.
  • Improve – What other pieces of furniture can be assembled this way?

That’s engineering
magnetism –

Engineering ideas

  • force, magnets, magnetism, compression, strength

Do It
Challenges for you to work on…

  • design your own furniture for easy assembly from flat pieces. How will the pieces be connected? Can it be disassembled?