Socket To Me

Consider the lowly electric receptacle. For decades it has languished on the walls of buildings, desperately trying to be inconspicuous yet failing miserably at the task. Not anymore.

The wall accessory/necessity has finally been elevated to something of a design element thanks to Omer Arbel of Vancouver-based Bocci design studio. The 22 Series he created is gaining a lot of attention, largely because once something is plugged into it, the outlet is virtually invisible.

“I find outlets very sexy!” says Arbel. “Why are outlets any less sexy than chandeliers, fixtures, shades, furniture? It’s this kind of thinking that’s lead us to the ubiquitous and horrendous cover plate system that’s been the only available option for who knows how long.”

The 22 device is actually a free-floating power outlet that enables power receptacles, on/off switches, telephone and data connections, etc,. to be mounted flush with drywall or millwork. The mounting plate, once wired, is embedded into the drywall. The plugs, with the help of a proprietary tool, are then pulled flush with the wall. The result: once an electrical cord is plugged into the outlet, the outlet vanishes from sight. A clean, uncluttered design has never been more easily achieved.

Inspiration for the nifty device came via a dream in which Arbel envisioned an outlet with the only visible parts being the holes for the plugs prongs. “Over time, and due to rigorous development in response to UL and CSA requirements, we learned that we had to live with a circular outline around the holes as well,” concedes Arbel. “[That’s] too bad — but not a disaster — and certainly a vast improvement over a visible and protruding cover plate.”

The 22 Series is already in use in a number of high-end contemporary houses in the Vancouver area and in that city’s Monte Clark Gallery. The units are currently available at InForm Interiors in Vancouver and Kiosk in Toronto, as well as through Omer Arbel Office Inc.

Until now, Arbel has been best known for his furniture and lighting design. A graduate of the University of Waterloo School of Architecture, he has created several designs that garnered awards such as a D&AD (Yellow Pencil) Award; he has also been short-listed for the iF Product Design Award in Hannover, Germany, and for the Blueprint 100% Design Best Newcomer award in London, England. Arbel’s impressive body of work also earned a much-coveted BC Creative Achievement Award.

What’s currently on his drawing board? “An upholstered bench and lounge chair which re-propose the relationship between fabric and foam,” says Arbel. “And two new chandeliers, and an ongoing project called ‘Homage to Tokyo’. ”

For more information about the 22 Series or Omer Arbel’s other work, visit CI