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San Francisco startup Bumblebee Spaces can make small apartments livable for remote work by turning studios into offices and storing furniture in the ceiling

Bumblebee_Ceiling Desk Detail_Final
Bumblebee 2177 San Francisco. Bumblebee
  • Smart-home robotics company Bumblebee was started by an Apple and Tesla veteran.

  • The company’s robot technology stores furniture in the ceiling when not in use.

  • Bumblebee can convert bedrooms into offices, exercise studios, and more.

  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The COVID-19 pandemic and stay-at-home orders have made the case for Bumblebee Spaces, a modular smart-home robotics startup staffed by Apple and Tesla alums. The company is the modern, high-end version of Murphy beds, but for all furniture, which gets stored away in the ceiling when not needed. Bumblebee has upgraded and improved its design, which it first showed to Business Insider’s Katie Canales in early 2020.

Sankarshan Murthy founded Bumblebee Spaces in 2017, after working as a product manager at Apple and a product technologist at Tesla. He wouldn’t have been able to start Bumblebee without spending time at those companies, Murthy told Business Insider.

Bumblebee is a way to address the lack of affordable housing and people crowded into small apartment, but it’s different from typical solutions. From the beginning, Murthy says, the company was focused on addressing the ballooning cost of space, especially in cities. When people can’t afford space or are forced into homes that are too small, especially when that includes working from home during the coronavirus pandemic, it leads to “crappy living situations.” 

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Fixing the problem of space would either require building out into new areas, which is “terrible for the environment,” or making small spaces more appealing. Murthy and Bumblebee focus on the latter. 

“I would rather make space for wilderness. If you can have a nice backyard, don’t put concrete there!” he said of the backyard office trend that emerged this year.

Here’s a look at how Bumblebee has improved its product and found a niche during the pandemic.

One of the locations with Bumblebee’s designs is a condo in San Francisco. Anyone buying a condo in the building has the option to upgrade with Bumblebee.

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Bumblebee 2177 San Francisco. Bumbleee

Bumblebee works directly with residents when they move in to make upgrades that make sense for their life and routine, Murthy told Business Insider. This is more crucial than ever as people are stuck inside during the pandemic.

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Bumblebee 2177 San Francisco. Bumblebee

The bed is one of the clearest examples of how Bumblebee can transform a small space, like a studio or one-bedroom apartment.

2177   Bed Down
Bumblebee 2177 San Francisco. Bumbleee

After the resident gets up, the bed goes away into the ceiling until it is needed again, freeing up that space.

2177   Bed Up
Bumblebee 2177 San Francisco. Bumbleee

The key to Bumblebee, Murthy says, is that the technology works around the life of the user.

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Bumblebee 2177 San Francisco. Bumblebee

“The conventional wisdom is that better quality of life equals a bigger home,” Murthy said. Bumblebee and Murthy attempt to make “truly efficient living” desirable.

2177   Console Open
Bumblebee 2177 San Francisco. Bumbleee

He says he is really proud of the way the desk works; it can function as a standing desk, a typical sit-down desk, or work can be left completely intact and the desk can be stowed in the ceiling.

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Bumblebee 2177 San Francisco. Bumblebee

That way, Murthy says “When work is out of the way, it’s truly out of the way – you’re not sleeping in the office.”

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Bumblebee 2177 San Francisco. Bumblebee

The times when different pieces of furniture and appliances are needed are staggered, so it creates wasted space.

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Bumblebee 2177 San Francisco. Bumblebee

The system is modular, so residents can add only what they will actually use and need.

2177   Storage Box
Bumblebee 2177 San Francisco. Bumbleee

“Eventually, anything taking up a footprint in the home should not be static,” Murthy says, including appliances like washers and dryers.

Bumblebee_Bedroom Exercise_Day Final
Bumblebee 2177 San Francisco. Bumblebee

The designs are minimalist enough to fit into nearly any space, and come in different finishes to match the aesthetic.

Kitchen and Dining
Bumblebee interior. Bumblebee

Most surprisingly for Murthy, the system actually gets used the way that it was designed, and people are able to find their things and rearrange rooms multiple times per day.

2177   Storage Items
Bumblebee 2177 San Francisco. Bumbleee

The Bumblebee team initially worried that the system might end up as “overspilled storage,” but all of the pieces are virtual and searchable.

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Bumblebee 2177 San Francisco. Bumblebee

Home is mostly “piles of stuff” that people don’t track, but in the Bumblebee control center, they can.

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Bumblebee 2177 San Francisco. Bumblebee

The system is designed to understand the user and what is stored to make helpful suggestions. It was designed to be a platform, rather than a product, Murthy told Business Insider.

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Bumblebee app. Bumblebee

Murthy says Bumblebee isn’t competing with Murphy bed manufacturers – they’re in a new category all together, with “robotics and concrete coming together.”

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Bumblebee 2177 San Francisco. Bumblebee

It “feels like you walked into the future; this is how people should be living,” Murthy says of his company’s designs.

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Bumblebee 2177 San Francisco. Bumblebee

Interested buyers can contact Bumblebee Spaces through the website and create a custom design based on their home.

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Bumblebee Spaces apartment. Bumblebee Spaces

Bumblebee Spaces

Products range from $12,000 to $40,000, depending on the design and configuration.

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Bumblebee Spaces apartment. Bumblebee Spaces

Murthy is joined by some of “the best of the best” from his former employers, Apple and Tesla. He says that they joined him because “they believe this is the biggest creative challenge and the right thing to take on for the world.”

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Bumblebee 2177 San Francisco. Bumblebee

Read the original article on Business Insider