The sofa is the modern urbanite's go-to place for doing everything from slouching in front of the TV to finishing off a report on the laptop, or relaxing with a single malt and some favourite music.
Add up all the hours spent on the sofa and you're in for quite a shock. According to figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2013, adults typically spend more than a month every year sitting in front of the television; that's 13 hours per week as a couch potato.
“We see this as a part of the future of furniture. And by future, we mean really soon.John Levey
If you're one who particularly enjoys a life in recline, you're a prime candidate for what shapes as possibly the ultimate sofa experience. The Felix Deluxe, created by the in-house design team at King Furniture, is a pretty impressive piece of kit.
Aesthetically, Felix has a streamlined, modern, deeply tufted design, built on an engineered steel frame. But it's what it is capable of, not what it looks like or made from, that makes this much more than just a stylish place to sprawl.
A series of open-ended pockets around the edges are ideal locations to store remote controls, magazines and anything else you often need, but can never find.
The pockets can also hide a system of mounting points, to which can be attached a swivel side-table. A great spot to rest the aforementioned dram of single malt, it will also in the near future be able to work as a proximity charger. That means you simply place your smartphone on it, and it juices up the battery without cables or plugs. Very clever.
King Furniture is also developing a sleek reading lamp specifically for the mounting points, so you can position it wherever you happen to be sitting. Adaptors are also being designed to support various brands of compact speakers, lifting them from the living room floor and creating a true surround sound experience. A test model we viewed featured a pair of Sonos Play 1 speakers. Team them with a Sonos Playbar and you've turned the sofa into a virtual home theatre.
Further enhancing this effect is a large sub-woofer chamber hidden beneath the sofa's left or right arm (depending on your preference). "Boy, does it enhance the sound," says John Levey, King Furniture's head of research and development. "The music ventilates out from underneath the sofa, and you can actually feel it in your seat."
Levey stresses that none of the technology is hardwired into the sofa. "This is an important distinction, because we don't want the technology to age quicker than the sofa," he says. "I saw an iPhone 3 dock in a piece of furniture in Milan three years ago, and I wonder where that piece of furniture is today?"
The Felix also comes with optional TouchGlide® control technology, featuring a seat cushion that electronically slides into a reclining position at the touch of a button. It sounds very airline business class, but there's more to come.
The company's King Cloud II sofa, a prototype at the moment, incorporates voice-controlled reclining via an Apple iPhone. Tell the phone's inbuilt assistant, Siri, you want to relax, and Cloud II reclines. Ask Siri to take you home and the cushion returns to its previous position.
"We see this as a part of the future of furniture," Levey says. "And by future, we mean really soon."
Levey says sofas such as Felix and Cloud II will be one part of the fully automated house of the future.
"This is a house that not only knows when you are home, but knows that tomorrow is a public holiday and will assume you'll want to chill out," Levey says. "The lights will automatically be dimmed, multi-zone climate control set at just the right temperature, the music switched on to something mellow, and the sofa reclined and ready for you to relax.
"All this is closer than you might think."
So close, that Smart Home Solutions operations manager Frank Gergelifi says it's already possible. "The challenge at this point of time is working out how to utilise and adopt these technologies to suit current lifestyles," he says.
"We're consolidating all this technology into the one user interface, such as your smartphone or iPad. Anything is achievable nowadays. It's just a matter of engineering the solution."