Jessica Leigh Hester is a former senior associate editor at CityLab, covering environment and culture. Her work also appears in the New Yorker, The Atlantic, New York Times, Modern Farmer, Village Voice, Slate, BBC, NPR, and other outlets.
Yves Béhar's deceptively high-tech device blends in with its surroundings.
As we trudge through the blisteringly hot summer—the hottest on record for the U.S.—it’s tempting to crank the A.C. as high as it can go. That means we’re looking at thermostats, and those can be eyesores.
White, blocky or disc-shaped thermostats can look clunky bulging off the wall. That’s why sleek alternatives have made such a splash in the design world. The new project by Yves Béhar—whose studio, Fuseproject, designed the Sodastream and the Jawbone Up fitness tracker—may be the slickest one yet. Instead of jockeying for attention, it’s designed to be as unobtrusive as possible.
Hive Active Heating 2 has a simple design conceit: Not everything needs to be a showstopper. Design that recedes into the surroundings can make high-tech gadgets easier to live with, since they’re not constantly vying for our attention. “This is our way of making the thermostat blend into the home as it reflects the environment,” Béhar says.
Developed for British Gas, which serves half of the customers in the U.K., the thermostat can be programmed with six pre-set temperature preferences and tweaked manually or via a mobile app, Wired reports. The interactive, mirrored surface shows no trace of the controls until touched, when it actives the LED touchscreen for use.
The device, which retails for €249, isn’t currently available outside of the U.K. But, as Wired points out, the idea—that quiet design has a long and pleasant lifespan—has broad applications. Think of Nest’s fully-integrated smart smoke detector, or a wireless router that you don’t want to shove under the couch. It’s design we can appreciate when we think about it—but ideally, we don’t think about it much at all.