When we were kids, mood rings seemed like some kind of mystical magic, shifting from gray to purple, red, yellow, green, or blue according (supposedly) to what we were feeling at the time. Of course, they were really just providing us with a basic example of thermochromism: the ability to change color in response to changes in temperature. Sometimes, this effect is achieved using liquid crystals, but more often it’s the result of infusing plastics, textiles, inks, paints, or paper with heat-sensitive “leuco dyes.” It’s especially fun when integrated with furniture and other surfaces in the home, like tiling and wallpaper.
The Blur Table, designed by Tokyo-based studio we+, is a “constantly evolving low table” shaped like a simple white drum. Designers Hokuto Ando and Toshiya Hayashi coated the tabletop with an ink that reacts to temperature changes. “Infused with blue, appearing like water soaking into soil, its appearance continually transforms,” they say. “The static immutable furniture displays ephemeral aesthetics and transitional moments.”
Heat-Sensitive Table by Jay Watson
The “Linger a Little Longer” set by designer Jay Watson leaves its owner with no doubt that someone has been around by “recording” the imprint of their activity on both the bench and the tabletop. A sleek, black, minimalist duo, this furniture shows no signs of being unusual until you touch it, when it creates a “watermark” that exposes its natural wood surfaces under their black coatings.
Color-Changing Lounge Furniture
If you’ve ever gotten up from a soft piece of furniture only to be embarrassed by the impression your body has made in the material, this collection by NunoErin may not be for you. The design duo is now offering a variety of thermosensitive stools, chairs, and benches, including a piece they call the “Love Handles” sofa, which is particularly fun for kids. “Children discover that with a gentle touch, warm body heat causes gestural prints to appear in vibrant contrasting color,” explain its designers. “At room temperature the temporary prints last for up to two minutes and then softly disappear as the original hue returns. The color changing process is repeatable and with each encounter, new prints and patterns are discovered.”
This wallpaper has a secret. What looks like an ordinary (if not lovely) botanical design of crawling green vines comes alive with soft pink blossoms when you turn on your radiator (or place a portable radiator-style oil-filled heater in front of it). This particular wallpaper was created by Twelve design agency, and it doesn’t seem to be commercially available as of yet. But if you’re in love with the idea of reactive walls, you should check out the UK company Custom Creation Paints, which currently offers a black paint that turns pink when exposed to heat.
Color-Changing Shower Tiles
At room temperature, these tiles appear to be a slightly mottled shade of black. But the more heat you apply to them — whether from radiant heat, warm water, or your own touch — the more they change: from green to blue to yellow to red. Moving Color Studios calls their tile series “Northern Lights” as a tribute to the hues of the beautiful “aurora borealis” phenomenon seen near the Arctic Circle at certain times of the year.