Press Release:
World’s first Internet-of-Things (IoT) sofa to debut at Milan Design Week

Downloadable PDF

Lift Bit ph Max Tomasinelli 14

Designed by Carlo Ratti Associati with the support of Vitra, the project can digitally transform a sofa into endless configurations. More info on

More images and press materials available on request (please contact

Milan, 6 April 2016

International design and innovation firm Carlo Ratti Associati, with the support of Swiss furniture manufacturer Vitra, has developed Lift-Bit, the world’s first Internet-of-Things sofa. A full-size prototype will be unveiled during the next Milan Design Week. The project will be on show at Milan XXI Triennale International Exhibition, the first event of this kind after a twenty-year hiatus. The installation is featured in the “Rooms. Novel living concepts” exhibition organized by Salone del Mobile.Milano, open from 12 April until 12 September, 2016.

Lift-Bit is a modular, digitally-reconfigurable furniture system that allows a sofa to seamlessly turn into a chair, a chaise longue, a bed, a lounge room, and a myriad of other configurations. The system is composed of a series of individual, upholstered stools. Each element is motorized using a linear actuator, enabling it to be raised or lowered. Height can double (or halve) in just a few seconds.

Lift-Bit can be controlled in person, via a simple gesture (just hovering your hand in the air over the seat), or from a distance, through the use of a mobile app. The app includes both a series of predetermined three-dimensional shapes and a tool to create new, dynamic combinations. Paying homage to radical British architect Cedric Price’s 1970s “Generator Project”, the Lift-Bit system can even become ‘bored’: when not used for a long time, it will start shape-shifting on its own to engage users.

The dynamic Lift-Bit system is further enhanced when assembled in large compositions, as at the XXI Triennale’s installation. Here, activating a single stool will trigger a broader effect, with the entire system recalibrating and generating a potentially infinite number of arrangements. Two elements together can make a chair. Four elements, a chaise longue. Nine elements, a large sofa. Dozens can radically redefine any settings, even with configurations reminiscent of a volcano or the Grand Canyon.

“Architecture has often been described as a kind of ‘third skin’ – in addition to our own biological one and our clothing. However, for too long it has functioned rather like a corset: a rigid and uncompromising addition to our body”, says Professor Carlo Ratti, founder of Carlo Ratti Associati studio and Director of the Senseable City Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). “Lift-Bit draws on the potential of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to transform our interior landscape, giving form to an endlessly reconfigurable environment. In the future, we could imagine an architecture that adapts to human need, rather than the other way around – a living, tailored space that is molded to its inhabitants’ needs, characters, and desires.”

“Thanks to the liberating effect of technology, the way we live and work is becoming more flexible. We are excited to be present at the ‘Rooms’ exhibition at Milan’s Triennale, supporting Carlo Ratti Associati in this exploration of innovative ideas for our interiors”, says Eckart Maise, Chief Design Officer of Vitra.

Lift-Bit will be on show at Milan’s XXI Triennale, titled “21st Century. Design After Design”, within the “Rooms. Novel living concepts” exhibition curated by Beppe Finessi and produced by the Salone del Mobile.Milano. The exhibition, inspired by renowned 1972 show “Italy: The New Domestic Landscape” at New York’s MoMA, gathers eleven top practices based in Italy with the goal of showcasing the state of Italian design. In addition to Carlo Ratti Associati the exhibition features work by designers from several generations, including Alessandro Mendini, Umberto Riva, Francesco Librizzi, Fabio Novembre.

Lift-Bit is a project by Carlo Ratti Associati, developed with the support of Vitra. Engineering and interaction design by Opendot.

More information are available on the website

Carlo Ratti Associati ® – Lift-Bit press release – 6 April 2016 –


Triennale di Milano
Viale Emilio Alemagna, 6, Milano Until 12 September 2016


Lift-Bit is a project by Carlo Ratti Associati, developed with the support of Vitra for the “Stanze. Altre filosofie dell’abitare” (“Rooms. Novel living concepts”) exhibition organized by Salone del Mobile.Milano within the framework of the XXI Triennale (Milan, 2 April – 12 September 2016). Engineering and interaction design by Opendot.

The team at Carlo Ratti Associati includes Carlo Ratti, Giovanni de Niederhausern, Andrea Cassi (project leader), Ina Sefgjini, Damiano Gui, Antonio Atripaldi, Emanuele Protti, Gary Di Silvio, Daniele Belleri. The team at OpenDot includes Alessandro Masserdotti, Fabrizio Pignoloni, Vittorio Cuculo.


Carlo Ratti Associati is a design and innovation practice based in Turin, Italy, with branches in Boston and London. Drawing on Carlo Ratti’s research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the office is currently involved in many projects across the globe. Embracing every scale of intervention – from city masterplans to furniture design – the work of the practice focuses on innovation in our built environment and daily lives. Noteworthy achievements at the urban and architectural scale include the masterplan for a creative hub in the City of Guadalajara, the Future Food District at Expo Milano 2015, and the Digital Water Pavilion at Expo Zaragoza – named Best Invention of the Year by Time Magazine. Design projects range from experimental furniture for Cassina to light installations for Artemide. Over the past two years Carlo Ratti Associati has been involved in the launch of two startups: Superpedestrian, producer of the Copenhagen Wheel, and Makr Shakr, developer of the world’s first robotic bar system.


Creating innovative products and concepts with great designers is Vitra’s essence. They are developed in Switzerland and installed worldwide by architects, companies and private users to build inspirational spaces for living, working and shopping as well as public areas. With its classics Vitra represents groundbreaking 20th century design. Today, in combining technical and conceptual expertise with the creativity of contemporary designers, Vitra seeks to continue pushing the boundaries of the design discipline. A family business for eighty years, Vitra believes in lasting relationships with customers, employees and designers, durable products, sustainable growth and the power of good design. The Vitra Campus with buildings by some of the world’s leading architects and the Vitra Design Museum with its exhibitions on design and architecture, design archives and a comprehensive furniture collection are all part of Vitra. They inspire visitors, inform the design process and create an atmosphere in which innovation flourishes.


Opendot stemmed from interaction design company dotdotdot, to develop a place for rapid prototype production, research, innovation and experimentation. Opendot initiates changes, identifying in the open source format and in technological know-how new opportunities for growth in the areas of training, design, production and research. Thanks to its multidisciplinary approach, Opendot is a reference point for companies that wish to implement their products and know-how through processes of innovative development. The promoters of Opendot are designers of making and creators of culture who enthusiastically embrace the philosophy of collaboration and sharing of knowledge, positioning themselves as a meeting point between new skills and traditional know-how.