In 2005, third-grade-teacher Eric Schneider bought as big as an apartment as he could afford in Manhattan. He paid $235,000 for a 450-square-foot studio with a tiny kitchen.

Then he let architects Michael Chen and Kari Anderson of Normal Projects design a way to pack more density into his small space.

In order to fit more apartment in a small footprint, they created an object that’s bigger than furniture, but smaller than architecture and that morphs with the changing activities of a day.

It’s a large, blue, oversized cabinet that houses all of the walls/bed/tables/shelving/closets needed for at least 4 full-sized rooms.

By continuing to unfold, or fold differently, Schneider can create a bedroom with accompanying built-in nightstand and closets, but an office plus library, a guest bedroom, and a living room. Or close it up entirely and simply flip down the small bar and the room becomes entertaining space for a dozen.

The Normal Projects architects called their creation the Unfolding Apartment, though given Schneider’s affinity for the Japanese sense of space (he spent his first year post-college living and teaching in Japan), it could as easily be called the Origami Apartment.

In total, Schneider spent $70,000 total remodeling his new apartment and this includes not just the cabinet, but the bathroom renovation, all cabinetry, kitchen appliances, furniture and dishes.

In this video, Chen shows us his custom cabinet of rooms and Schneider unfolds a few of his favorite configurations: his bedroom (& closet/changing room), office (& library), guest bedroom, kitchen, dining bar, living room and lounge.

Normal Projects/Michael Chen Architecture:

Original story here:



  1. Incredible. Absolutely Lovely.

  2. Man the design looks amazing! Even though the space is way to small for me but this is very unique.

  3. WOW!!!! I love this! Wish I could visit!

  4. it would have been better if that cabinet is in white

  5. i don't have any phone in my life because i'm 12 years old and i hope this can be my first phone. 😀

  6. “I like everything being meaningful”

  7. I think he'd be best getting rid of that microwave for more drygoods storage. Mic's arent good. And the stove looks excellent to do everything.

  8. I guess they got rid of the bathroom to save space, In New York you don't really need a bathroom apparently.

  9. Very nice I like it great job in decorating.

  10. Ahh! This is very much as I imagined it to be. Aside from this rattan piece, which seems oddly out of place.

  11. So he spent $300k on a >$500 apartment on a third grade teachers salary in nyc? Insanity

  12. Interesting but maybe overthought and expensive to build out.

  13. As far as micro houses and micro apartment goes, this one is actually not that bad.

  14. I like the solitary confinement metal grate with small openings for air lol. No not. But very creative.

  15. But they couldn’t open it up cause of the couch 😆

  16. I love this apartment but I need more room I'm too messy for such a small space I need rooms lol

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