For $5,000 a month, you can rent a two-bedroom apartment in San Francisco’s Dogpatch neighborhood whose furniture stored in the ceiling transforms it into a coveted three-bedroom unit.
It’s all thanks to Bumblebee Spaces, a San Francisco startup that “unlocks” living space by storing furniture, like beds and closets, in automated modular ceiling systems. The company caters its product to high-density markets where “space is a premium.”
Its hometown of San Francisco unequivocally falls into that category — demand for housing drastically outweighs the city’s existing supply, hiking up living costs as a result.
Bumblebee Spaces has four projects planned or in the works in the city, as well as in other cities like New York. One of them is in San Francisco’s Dogpatch neighborhood a few miles south of downtown. The Landing apartment building offers one, two, and three-bedroom apartments — priced between $4,200 and $8,000 a month — and is currently accepting applications. Cofounder Sankarshan Murthy told Business Insider that Bumblebee’s systems are rolling out inside the two-bedroom layout at The Landing. But since the systems are modular, they could eventually be installed in other layouts as well.
And as the San Francisco Chronicle’s Carolyn Said reported in 2019, The Landing is also offering tenants the choice to rent out their apartments on Airbnb when they’re not using them. It’s a perk that has been hard to come by in the city since pushback began against using precious housing stock for rentals on the home-sharing platform.
Only the first 52 tenants who request the ability to rent their units will have permission to do so for up to 90 days, according to The Chronicle. So if any of the selected tenants happen to be leasing one of the units outfitted with Bumblebee’s systems, lucky visitors could experience the unique setup for themselves through Airbnb.
Here’s what they look like and how they work.
Murthy said his company’s modules are installed in some of the two-bedroom apartments at The Landing.
The apartments turn into three-bedrooms thanks to an extra bed, which descends at the touch of a button or with a simple voice command.
Available two-bedrooms are priced between $4,763 and $6,746.
The furniture modules are 13 inches thick and organized Tetris-style against the ceiling.
They’re not built into the concrete or drywall of a home. The modules are categorized as Fixtures, Furniture, and Equipment (FF&E,) a term used to describe movable furniture that’s not permanently connected to a home.
The company offers king and queen-size beds, nightstands, dressers, desks, and deeper modules for storing things like luggage.
Artificial intelligence also works to learn from your behavior and to eventually interpret your needs, such as remembering where you put what.
“Our AI learns from your preferences and routine, then adapts to suit your life,” reads the company website.
A series of sensors, which are similar to the kind used in garage doors, help make the machines aware of their surroundings.
The sensors also scan the space underneath the module before it descends, so if someone or something was in the way, it would remain in its lofted position.
Murthy told Business Insider that Bumblebee Spaces will sometimes work with homeowners to retrofit their homes with the modules.
But the startup is mostly focused on teaming up with multi-family developers to integrate the systems into apartment projects at a larger scale. The Landing is one such example of that.
And unlike a full ceiling installation at the startup’s demo space, the units at The Landing are outfitted in more of an a la carte style.
Photos show retrofitted modules for the bed and for drawers that take up only part of the ceiling.
You can view The Landing’s current offerings here.
Like most apartments built recently in San Francisco, the monthly rent for units at The Landing is on the pricier side.
That’s a trend in the city as high construction costs, among other factors, result in much of the new housing being geared toward high-earning workers, as The Chronicle’s J.K. Dineen reports.