High-density living is the new normal. From Tokyo to Paris to New York, spaces are shrinking as rents are on the rise. With the micro dwelling trend comes the adoption of smart storage, the art of decluttering, multipurpose furniture, minimalism and prefab solutions. Inspired by the “Tiny House Movement,” architects and designers are creating solutions to accommodate the wide array of modern urban needs in smaller spaces.

Photography: Jedrzej Stelmaszek, Jedrzej Stelmaszek, Frank Oudeman, Natsuno Ichigo, Resource Furniture, Ryohin Keikaku Co., Ltd & Tomas Manina | Words: Alyson Strike


Combining minimalism with strategic function, Polish designer Szymon Hanczar built a 140 square-foot apartment. Featuring a sliding ladder to save stair space and a smart closet system to improve organization, this loft studio has a washing machine in the closet, a kitchenette, desk area, bike rack, bathroom and hammock — basically everything a single person in the city could need.

Szymon Hanczar's Micro Apartment (Wrocław, Poland). Photography: Jedrzej Stelmaszek


Brooklyn-based architectural firm Jordan Parnass Digital Architecture was tasked with transforming an East Village studio into a functional space for both living and working. Using stairs with hidden clothing drawers and an alley kitchen that doubles as a laundry room, JPDA created a space that is both comfortable, useful and stylish. Similarly, when a video of this Parisian apartment by Kitoko Studio (only 86 square feet) went viral in 2014, the mystifying use of sliding compartments inspired designers everywhere to fully explore space-saving possibilities.

East Village Studio (New York City) | Photography: Frank Oudeman


In these tiny functional spaces, the need for less is apparent. For Japanese organization consultant Marie Kondo, the benefits of better storage, better organization and living with less are celebrated throughout her New York Times bestselling books, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Spark Joy. The KonMari folding method she preaches is helping to declutter closets around the world.

Konmari Folding Method | Photography: Natsuno Ichigo


Industrial designers are turning to multipurpose furniture to meet the unique demands of smaller homes. For example, in Bill and Daniel Yudchitz’s small Wisconsin cabin, their dining table can convert to a living room with a coffee table or a third sleeping area.

If you don’t want your bed to be an eyesore in a small studio apartment, Resource Furniture’s discreet Tango sets fold out of the wall. More and more mainstream brands have also begun to focus on multipurpose furniture as well.

Tango Sofa | Photography: Resource Furniture


Tokyo-based Muji is breaking onto the tiny prefab home scene in 2017 with Muji Hut — created in collaboration with renowned designers and architects Konstantin Grcic, Jasper Morrison and Naoto Fukasawa.

As interiors evolve to accommodate a changing urban landscape, so does the infrastructure of tiny homes and greener solutions. The compact Ecocapsule prototype, designed by Nice Architects, can be placed anywhere in the world to support an off-the-grid lifestyle.

Muji Huts | Photography: Ryohin Keikaku Co., Ltd.

As cities continue to evolve with growing populations, increases in smart solutions for tiny spaces will continue to push urban dwellers to do more with less. This philosophy will encourage us to pursue quality products, produce less waste and use less energy than ever before.

Ecocapsule | Photography: Tomas Manina