Prime wood – Jessica Herrera‘s amazing space-savers.

Small apartments need big ideas in the form of convertible furniture. Young American product designer Jessica Herrera made a splash at Ambiente 2015 with her cleverly conceived, multi-purpose prime wood items – creations capable of making any urban bedsitter appear bigger, airily spacious even. On #TalentsTuesday, we will be showing the “minimal marvels” penned by the designer to herald “Cosiness 2.0”.

Sometimes one room has to be everything to its occupant – lounge, bed chamber and home office. Student Jessica Herrera knows this only too well: “I live in San Francisco and am about to graduate from the Academy of Art University in furniture and product design. Just as in New York, where my sister lives, you think twice about the kind of furniture that you should put in a space with not many square feet available.” It should be noted here that San Francisco is one of the most expensive cities in the world – an unfurnished 15 square metres (160 square feet) with wall cupboard is unlikely to be available to rent for less than $1,000 a month.

Two essentials in any apartment – a bed and a table. Originality is required if these basics are to do more than just the one function. Jessica Herrera’s creations, presented to the Ambiente public, are designed to do just that. The American’s quest is to make small apartments cosy, light and airy with minimalistic and multi-functional elements. Light, bright wood, upholstered with grey felt where appropriate. “No corners or sharp edges”, is the battle cry of this California kid. Her table from the “Lilla” collection is urban chic with a large fold-up flap. Inside, the rugged-looking piece houses cutlery and crockery and anything else needed for a well-laid table. At other times, this lithe four-legged beauty serves as the perfect study desk.


The one-room wonders keep on coming. Take Herrera’s aptly named All-in-One, for example: stool, storage, occasional table, umbrella stand and wastepaper basket, all in a single design envelope. It could also serve as your kitty perch, sewing basket, quiet repose, conversation piece and so on. But not – please – as a birdcage. The design gains further credit through the lack of screws, nuts and interminable, incomprehensible assembly instructions. It converts in a trice, eliminating stress and preserving unsteady relationships.


And because, even in the smallest of urban abodes, there is always ceiling space available, the designer has decided to suspend her “Lilla” shelf ensembles. It’s a further opportunity to preserve space on the ground and the perfect complement to the likewise hanging Spartan bed from her “Sticks and Stones” series, which she designed for a major furniture manufacturer.


“A piece of furniture has to be easy to handle, uncomplicated and – where possible – stackable”, says Jessica Herrera in explaining her credo at the Ambiente Talents booth. And maybe there is also a little bit of the easy lifestyle there as immortalised in the legendary “California Dreaming”? Keep things light, kill the clutter. Let that sunshine in for which Frisco, the “Golden State”, is so well known. Herrera’s minimalistic “Slo” lounger is another item that will fit into any slot – or rather on any balcony. Spread a few cushions and set your spirit free: “If you come to San Francisco … Summertime will be a loving day”.