As we switch on our noisy air conditioners for summer, it may do us well to keep in mind that many of the materials we wear on our bodies and keep in our rooms actually have subtle but noticeable effects on how cool we feel. Synthetic materials like polyester, for example, are notorious for making us sweat. But now two French engineers have come up with some ideas as to how furniture can reverse these familiar annoyances. The ZEF Climatic Table uses a combination of a special wax and heat-diffusing aluminum panels to absorb and release heat, keeping your room at a comfy 71 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Climatic Table, despite its sleek oak plateau, hides under its chassis a "climactic damper" that uses PCM (phase-changing) wax formed into balls to take in excess warmth. An aluminum sheet keeps this material tucked away and diffuses its effects across the table. Designers Raphaël Ménard and Jean-Sébastien Lagrange claim the table can reduce energy bills by up to 30 percent, and heating bills by up to 60 percent, in air-conditioned environments, though in conditions where the temperature fluctuates, such as homes without thermostats, its effects are decidedly hampered.
However, the table might be of great use in expensively cooled and heated offices, where in a meeting room, for example, it could absorb the heat generated by people's bodies to keep the room cool while a meeting is in progress, then release the heat afterward to maintain a consistent temperature.
One of the inspirations for the table is the Japanese Kotatsu, which also leverages the large surface area of a table to provide local heat—though its effects are decidedly not as radiant, and it is reliant on some sort of heating element or motor hidden under its surface.
Though the ZEF Climatic Table might not be a game-changer on its own, it could work with a variety of other objects—the creators plan on designing a whole ecosystem—to regulate a room.