In a time where money is hard to come by, people are searching for products that really work hard for them. If a product can perform more than one task, then it can represent real value for money as well as innovation. Multifunctional products can sometimes be novel and corny and sometimes useless. But here for this blog post i've searched for some multi-functional products that are both genuinely useful AND stylish.
1. SOFA BED
What is it: Sofa and a bed, converts from one to another often with a folding action.
Why it is great: Because when you have guests you can put them there to sleep without having to have a separate guest room. You can turn your living room into a temporary guest room.
Compromise: Often the comfort can be compromised but there are some designs that work really well as both. Personally I prefer the ones with a slightly better mattresses and a more simple folding mechanism.
Where you can get: Made.com You can also get sofa bed pretty much anywhere you might buy furniture. There are also some great deals to find on secondhand furniture like this.
2. PLAY AND GO STORAGE
What is it? : It is a storage sack and play mat in one.
Why its great: Its fantastic for kids toys that you use regularly and may need to pack away quickly.
Compromise: It might be difficult to organise items inside, you need to find somewhere to store the sack.
Where can you buy: You can get on kids websites such as Kidly.co.uk
3. DOUBLE ENDED COLOUR PENCILS
What is it? : Coloured pencils with one colour on one end and a different colour on the other.
Why its great: If you only have a limited amount of space or if you need to use 2 colours regularly, you can just get this pencil and spin it around to change colours easily without losing your pencils!
Compromise: One colour may run out faster than the other.
Where can you buy: You can buy the ones pictured below by searching "double ended colour pencils" £3.50 (Helix brand) or fancier ones from specialty stores such as Present and Correct.
4. GOODORDERING MARKET SHOPPER
What is it? : It is a 3 in 1 bag which is a shoulder bag, backpack and bicycle pannier bag. Designed by Jacqui Ma for Goodordering, east london bag company.
Why its great: Often if you are riding a bicycle you will get off the bike and carry on with your day. This bag transforms seamlessly between being a bicycle pannier bag, a regular tote bag that can be worn over the shoulder and a functional backpack.
Compromise: When the bag is being used on the bicycle the backpack straps may seems as though they are in the way. However you can just tuck the backpack straps into the slip pocket at the back before attaching to your bike, and they will not be in the way.
Where can you buy: Goodordering.com
What is it? : Fork on one end and a spoon on the other
Why its great: Because its convenient if you are camping or eating on the go and don't want to carry multiple pieces of cutlery around with you
Compromise: What happens if you ideally need to use the fork and the spoon together at the same time? then you are in big trouble.
Where can you buy: Any camping shop or online by searching Spork. You can find a wide variety from wooden and bamboo to metal versions of differing lengths.
6. PHOTOCHROMIC (TRANSITION) LENSES ON GLASSES
What is it? : Lenses which are clear during the normal inside light and when you go outside automatically turn into sunglasses.
Why its great: Two in one glasses, no need to change glasses or misplace your sunglasses.
Compromise: When you come back inside the tint remains for a while which can look a bit wierd. There are different quality lenses and new technology advances in this area regularly.
Where can you buy: You can specify these lenses at any optician or you can order them with one of the many online lens companies.
7. DOUBLE SIDED JACKETS
What are they? : A jacket with one print, pattern or material on one side and a different on the other.
Why are they great: Because in these times of austerity like now, we may not want to consume too much but we also crave variety. Some styles of jacket such as the bomber jacket and kimono style lend themselves particularly well to being double-sided. Reversible jackets are a great way of being able to invest in something more timeless and plain as well as to pick yourself up something a bit more out there.
Compromise: You may like one side better than the other and end up wearing one of the sides most of the time.
8. SWISS ARMY KNIFE
What is it? : A hand tool with folding out bits that are useful for things such as a knife.
Why its great: If you are camping or travelling this is handy as it is small and compact but has multiple tools that may save your bacon.
Compromise: The tools in a swiss army knife are usually miniature versions mainly for emergency rather than for everyday use.
Where can you buy: Widely available from camping and outdoor stores.
9. WASHER / DRYER IN ONE
What is it? : Washes and dries your laundry in the one single machine.
Why its great: Takes up less room than two individual machines and also saves space with having to hang washing around the house by drying it straight away after the wash cycle.
Compromise: Drying takes a lot longer than having a separate machine. It could also be less energy efficient.
Where can you buy: Anywhere you might pick up a washing machine or dryer!
10. SHAMPOO / CONDITIONER IN ONE
What is it? : Pretty self explanatory, shampoo and conditioner in one, mixed together maybe.
Why its great: Only one product necessary, great for using for public swimming pools or even on holiday as you don't have carry around two separate products.
Compromise: Maybe normally you would be the kind of person to wash your hair twice for every conditioner, so you can't do this. This product is more for the lower maintenance person who isn't so fussy and opts for convenience over detail.
Where can you buy: Many brands sell these products from supermarkets to higher end brands such as Cowshed.
11. WALKING STICK SEAT
What is it? : Its a walking stick which can be converted into a stool.
Why its great: Those who need to use a walking stick are likely to want to have a seat every now again and don't want to have to rely on a chair. Its also a very handy and easy way to hold a stool.
Compromise: Its not a regular chair but mainly a small stool for perching on, those who are unsteady on their feet as it is might find this kind of a stool more trouble than it is worth.
Where can you buy: Mobility shops or online searching for 'walking stick chair'.
12. TOILET PAPER HOLDER SHELF
What is it? : It is a toilet roll holder with an integrated shelf
Why its great: When you need to fix a item like this to a wall in a bathroom, you get extra functionality with the integrated shelf.
Compromise: It is an extra surface to clean, and may encourage people to stay in the toilet for too long which is problematic in a household with many people.
Where can you buy: Google independent designers or design shops. It is not the most commercial item in the world so you might need to hunt around for the right item that matches the decor of your bathroom. You might even think about designing and making one yourself!
13. TRUNKIE KIDS SUITCASE
What is it? : Trunkie is designed in the UK and it is a kids suitcase and also ride on vehicle for kids.
Why its great: Travelling with kids can be stressful and this suitcase aims to add fun and also functionality to travelling with kids.
Compromise: The suitcase itself does not fit a great deal of things inside and if the child doesn’t want to ride on it you end up just carrying a fairly impractical suitcase around.
Where can you buy: you can buy Trunkie online or through department stores.
14. FURNITURE PLANTER
What is it? : It is a plant pot and a piece of furniture in one
Why it is great: We know that having more plants around the home is a positive thing, its great for the mindset and for the environment. Incorporating these items together ultimately creates a brand new item which is both functional and beautiful.
Compromise: Relies on the sufficient maintenance of the plants, if the plants look droppy or dead it will make the furniture also look ugly.
Where can you buy: Design stores and design shows, independent artists and designers.
15. WHEELCHAIR BICYCLE TANDEM
What is it? : It is a bicycle which can carry a wheelchair user as a passenger.
Why its great: Wheelchair tandems and transporters have the massive advantage of the passenger being in front, with uninterrupted view, so rider and passenger can easily share and talk about the world they travel through.
Compromise: These vehicles could be expensive and need to be of a high standard to ensure safety for everyone. It might also be difficult to store these items as they are quite large.
Where can you buy: Specialty websites such as getcycling.co.uk
16. BAG AND BABY CHANGE MAT
What is it? : It is a bag which can also be unfolded and opened and becomes a baby change mat. The pockets on the bag holds the items needed to do a nappy change and the padded elements of the bag double as a soft surface for laying out the baby.
Why its great: Parents need to carry so many things around with them, so a multi-functional item like this that combines both a bag and a change mat is great for parents on the go.
Compromise: The bag may be more bulky than it needs to be, and as the child grows up and no longer needs to be changed lying down, the bag more or less becomes redundant.
Where can you buy: Department stores and baby product shops as well as online.
17. JACKET WITH DETACHABLE SLEEVES
What is it? : gilet, jacket or coat with detachable sleeves. It can transform from a vest style piece of outerwear to one with arms.
Why its great: buying a winter jacket can be a big investment financially so having it being able to transform into something else, a different fashion item with a different look or simply just something cooler makes this a clever two in one product.
Compromise: You might lose one of the arms or you might prefer the jacket either with or without the arms. You might also not like to see the zip or fastening mechanism.
Where can you buy: Lots of different brands have these items however it is a fashion item which might not be available every season. In which case you can always find these pieces vintage or from secondhand outlets.
18. WATERING CAN AND SPRAY IN ONE
What is it? : Watering can and water spray in one
Why its great: You need to go around to each indoor house plant and water and spray anyway so it is good to have one single item to carry around.
Compromise: May be a little less ergononic due to it being both a watering can and a spray can in one.
Where can you buy: You can buy on Amazon or you can buy more designer versions from design stores.
19. ERASER BRUSHES
What is it? : Three different typewriter eraser brushes, in perfect condition. Designed to eraser ribbon ink, with the brush to remove subsequent debris. Lovely pieces for your collection.
Why its great: this is just a stylish product which would bring joy to a simple activity such as writing drawing or erasing.
Compromise: The actual eraser and the brush might not be ideal but this is more a gift product but is nostalgic and charming.
Where can you buy: The eraser brushes pictured below are from present and correct, one of my most favourite sources of inspiration and stationery stores.
20. BED WITH STORAGE
What is it? : it is a bed with various kinds of storage underneath.
Why its great: it is a great way to store things that you might only need seasonally such as different types of clothing extra duvets pillows or cushions. Most people these days live in flats which are lack storage and underneath the bed is it an obvious additional place to be able to store things.
Compromise: it might not look the way you want it to look if you are a minimalist and the storage might not be 100% ideal.
Where can you buy: All furniture stores would have options for beds with storage such as this one shown in the image below.
21. HAIR BRUSH AND COMB IN ONE
What is it? : A folding compact brush and comb in one.
Why its great: Often we need to carry around at home in a make up bag this design protects both the comb and the brush bristles and also is multifunctional.
Compromise: this item may not last for ever as it could break and also might not be the best price you’ve ever had however the two items merged into one make this product very handy.
Where can you buy: This item is available on eBay, however you can possibly purchase items like this at pharmacies and other beauty retailers.
What is it? : Electricity assisted bicycle.
Why its great: You can use these bikes as regular bicycles or if you’re going on a very long trip they can be electrically assisted to make your journey easier. The rise of E-bikes means that many people who might not have written bites before can now ride bikes and those who might have stopped riding bikes a certain age can keep riding for long into their senior years.
Compromise: These bikes can be very expensive, And they also require maintenance and charging. They are not as simple as a regular bicycle.
Where can you buy: You can begin your search online for an E bike or buy one from a specialist a bike retailer. Over the last couple of years they have become increasingly popular so the price of them has become a lot more accessible.
23. MAKE UP MIRROR AND POWDER COMPACT
What is it? : A very old multi-functional item, the powder and mirror compact allows people to look at themselves whist applying powder or make up to their face.
Why its great: Because these two items are usually used at the same time, to have the objects - the mirror and the powder together in the one physical item is a no brainer and very convenient, especially if you are trying to apply your make-up on public transport.
Compromise: The mirror may get dirty from the powder or be too small.
Where can you buy: Almost all brands of powder include a mirror in the compact.
24. INTERCHANGEABLE WATCH
What is it? : Watch with interchangeable bands or bezels.
Why its great: The actual watch face is where the value of the product is usually. By being able to change the accessories that surround the face it is like you’ve got three or five watchers in one.
Compromise: it might be fiddly to change the watchbands or bezels around and you might not do it very often.
Where can you buy: Gucci do an amazing vintage model which my mum had and I used to love looking at. All the modern brands such as fossil also have similar products.
25. SMART PHONE
What is it? : A phone on which you can use apps and perform a wide range of activities such as creating photos, videos, playing games etc. For my business Goodordering, i can perform almost every part of my job using just my iphone, thereby making it one of the most important business tools I have.
Why its great: Because it is the modern day tool that you can use for almost everything. As it is small but powerful, it allows many people to do their jobs without having to lug around large pieces of technological equipment.
Compromise: May be difficult for the older generation to get the most out of using a smart phone. However at the same time, it doesn't matter how much they get out of it as long as what they need it for is fulfilled.
Where can you buy: Many different brands of smart phones are available, divided mainly between Apple and Android.
IN SUMMARY HERE ARE 25 MULTI-FUNCTIONAL AND STYLISH PRODUCTS
- Sofa Bed
- Play and Go storage
- Double ended pencil
- Goodordering Market shopper
- Transition lenses
- Double sided jackets
- Swiss army knife
- Walking stick seat
- Toilet paper holder shelf
- Furniture planter
- Wheelchair bicycle tandem
- Bag and baby change mat
- Jacket with detachable sleeves
- Watering can and spray in one
- Eraser brush
- Bed with storage
- Hair brush and comb
- Make-up and mirror compact
- Interchangeable watch band watch
- Smart phone
OTHER LINKS TO CHECK OUT FOR MORE MULTI-FUNCTIONAL ITEMS