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Originally published Friday, September 21, 2012 at 8:00 PM

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Next-Gen folding chairs just melt away


The New York Times

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Driven by technology and old-fashioned ingenuity, the cult of disappearing design -- the now-you-see-it, now-you-don't ethos -- has tricks aplenty and often something that could have come out of a James Bond movie.

Light switches are camouflaged to appear to be part of the wall, for example, while lighting fixtures lurk behind small apertures. Handle-less drawers open with a touch of a finger, while dining-room tables collapse to less than an inch wide. (Note: Remove plates before folding.)

On a more practical level, disappearing design is meant to both maximize one's ground plan (particularly in small apartments) and minimize the "visual noise" created by things like bulky knobs, dust-prone vents and the ancient albatross of many decorators: the widescreen TV.

Alexander Gendell's Folditure has designed tables and chairs as futuristic, collapsible pieces that continue a tradition of folding furniture that it says dates to ancient Egypt. (The Pyramids were famously tough to decorate.)

Both the table and chair, known as the Cricket and the Leaf, fold to less than an inch thick, which means you could hang the seating for your dinner party in the same closet where you stow your guests' coats.