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10 June 2023

Is it a bird or a plane? No, it’s a bed

By Reena Amos Dyes


Mankind has always been fascinated by anything that can defy the laws of gravity. Whether it is airplanes, hot air balloons, blimps or the magical flying carpets of the Arabian Nights, they have all fired our imagination. So you can imagine the sensation that was created when a Dutch architect showcased a floating bed in June of last year at the Millionaire Fair in Belgium.

The architect and designer immediately became the talk of the world and Janjaap Ruijssenaars and his amazing creation featured in more than 100 magazines, newspapers and TV shows across the world, including the cover of Time magazine and the Oprah Winfrey show.
Speaking to Emirates Business about the inspiration behind his gravity - and imagination - defying creation, Ruijssenaars says: “No matter where you live all architecture is dictated by gravity. After watching [Stanley] Kubrick’s movie 2001 A Space Odyssey, I started wondering if I could also make an object, a building or a piece of furniture where this is not the case.

“I worked for six long years on this concept and the result was the floating bed. People are astonished when they see it for the first time. They find it mind-boggling and fascinating at the same time because my floating bed is reality turned upside down.”

And they have a right to be astounded because not only does this bed float 40 cm off the ground it can also carry 900kg of weight. That is the equivalent weight of about 11 people. Small movements can be sensed when a number of people sitting atop the bed shift their weight, but with just two people on it the movement is negligible and the bed quickly reverts to its motionless horizontal position. It has to be held down by four thin wires so that it does not float towards the ceiling, making it impossible for people to get on or off. So what’s the secret? Is it really a wonder of science or a hoax?

Ruijssenaars, who spent six years designing his creation, explains the science behind the marvel. “Designed to resemble the Monolith in the movie 2001 A Space Odyssey, the floating bed makes use of the repulsive levitation in magnetism, which means levitation by a repulsive power caused by opposing magnetic fields. When a magnet is placed above another magnet, with the similar poles towards each other, they will show a repelling force. Simply put, magnets that are placed in the floating bed push away from magnets placed underneath the floor.

“So strong is this force that if the bed is not held to the ground by four steel cables it will float to the ceiling and will not remain motionless. And as this bed’s levitation is not powered by electricity or anything else and the magnetic material used to make this bed is permanent, this bed will continue floating for thousands of years. We have also reduced the magnetic force wherever possible by installing steel plates so that it is safe for your electronics, credit cards, etc,” he says.

This fascinating creation, which weighs 2,000kg and costs a whopping €1.2 million (Dh6.4m), can be installed inside or outside a building and has multiple uses. It can be used as a bed, with a specially designed mattress; as a sofa, with a specially designed covering; a Japanese dining table; a display for products; a floating pavilion; teahouse; lounge... The possibilities are endless.

Sadly, even though it has received rave reviews by the world press not a single piece has been sold as yet. But if the trendsetters, the risk takers and most of all the big spenders of the UAE are willing to put their money down for this one-of-a-kind creation then Ruijssenaars and his team would be more than happy to come over and set it up for you.