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The Storage Story

1.CLC01BC-Le-Modulor-FigureThe haulage, distribution and warehousing industry seems to understand it well enough. Storage has officially become a science. The messages emblazoned on the sides of trucks tell the story loud and clear. Complex Logistics Integrated Supply Chain Management,  Warehouse Analysis and Global Location Operation and Movement Systems.

Not that long ago, when the world was a simpler and less scientific place, goods were made and lorries simply moved them. Today, however, sophisticated computer programmes, scanners, satellite tracking and positioning devices keep us informed about where merchandise is located so that it can be delivered instantly whenever and where-ever it is needed.

We definitely need the same sort of systems at home as storage (and remembering where important things have been put away for safe keeping) has become such a nightmare that only a scientific approach can save us from oblivion.

The main problem is where to store everything conveniently and orderly. Todays houses are being built without cellars and rarely include attics, the two most established and traditional storage spaces. Cupboards under the stairs are way out of fashion as this space tends to be left open or used to squeeze in an extra toilet with a minuscule washbasin which barely protrudes from the wall,or the proverbial computer home office space. New developments of apartments are forced to keep space to the absolute minimum, both within the apartment itself and in any communal areas so storage is forfeited due to basic economics. Bedrooms have the skinniest wardrobes and lower ceilings mean that out of the way shelves and cupboards simply don’t fit in.

At the same time, there seems to be more and more to actually store. More clothes and shoes than previous generations (Mrs. Marcos excluded). Homes are better equipped with bigger televisions, DVDs, sound systems, telephones, security devices, computers, printers, cameras, electronic games, fans and air coolers. Every one of them has an instruction manual, often unnecessarily printed in fourteen languages with a list of service centres in forty-seven different countries. Each of these has to be kept safely to hand in case anything goes wrong and, believe me, things do go wrong! On top of these, often literally, are the operator manuals for the washing machine, dryer, oven, hob, fridge/freezer, extractor fan, microwave, answer machine, intruder alarm, heating system and many other appliances. A veritable library when the guarantees, registration documents and service contract details are included.

On top of all that, there are more books, magazines, CDs, photographs, ornaments, souvenirs and seasonal goodies ranging from Christmas baubles to Easter decorations that are in desperate need of a home. Goodness knows how the avid collector manages to find space for that collection of stamps, coins, models or whatever.

Kitchen storage has been ingeniously increased over the years. Manufacturers rightly pride themselves with finding solutions to squeeze in units that pull out, slide, lift up or pivot to give more storage space for those bread and ice cream makers, mixers, blenders, processors, pasta makers and other specialist equipment.  Unfortunately, as many of our homes become smaller with a whole raft of starter or first time buyer homes, studios, living pods and one bedroom flats for the increasing live alone population,
storage becomes scarcer, the problem is plainly getting worse.

In Japan twenty years ago, this had already been recognised and ingenious under-floor storage boxes and cavity walls filled with accessible shelves were becoming common. The idea of drawers in the base of a bed has spread to include storage units under sofas and multifunctional furniture that can change a step ladder into a table or chair and still incorporate a drawer or small cupboard.

Its not surprising that the size of bags and the number of pockets in our clothes have increased. We must now find space for all the essentials for a normal day out. Store, discount, debit and credit cards, gym membership and swipe cards, photo ID, mobile phone or Blackberry, Ipod or MP3 player (and the ear phones to go with it), keys for just about everything even before any personal items are included.

Don’t panic as help is at hand. The self store warehouses are popping up all over the place with 24 hour access to small cages where you can stash away all those things that you can’t find room for at home (except perhaps your pets!). Designers are also rising to the challenge. The familiar sofa that converts into a bed has now been paired up with low coffee tables that rise into a dining version, a bathroom mirror that revolves to reveal shelving, flip down computer tables, a sofa that houses stereo speakers and a chair that doubles up as a valet stand. In the television programme The Dragons Den, there was even an innocuous armchair that converts into a fully equipped gymnasium!

If that isn’t enough to put your mind at rest, you can always scan all the booklets and file all your documents on computer discs. But please remember where all the back up discs are stored and you may want to invest in a small mobile generator in case of more frequent power cuts. But there again, where are you going to keep that?