The term "hot seat" may take on a new meaning with this French furniture innovation that can help regulate the temperature in a room, no air conditioning (or energy-use) involved. The Z.E.F. (Zero-Energy Furniture) Table, a simple oak piece designed by Parisian designer Jean-Sébastien Lagrange and engineer Raphael Menard, absorbs and emits heat like a thermal sponge.
"The idea was to see how we could create furniture that could work as a solution to climate change," says Lagrange, who elaborates that the table came as the result of steady, iterative design and a long-term collaboration between friends, not a flash of inspiration. But according to Menard's calculations, the technology behind it could make a striking impact on energy use. His modeling suggests that if all the furniture in one room utilized this type of material, it would cut air conditioning bills by 30 percent and heating costs by 60 percent.