IKEA is embracing the concept of personalisation, something which we’ve has been passionate about for the past 10+ years. This article originally appeared in The Wall Street Journal. Bemz and our CEO Lesley Pennington are honoured to have been mentioned.
From the Wall Street Journal, published 29/01/2017:
IKEA’s ‘Open Source’ sofa invites customization
IKEA is making it easier for people to hack its furniture.
The Swedish retailer plans to roll out soon what it calls its first “open source” sofa—a piece of furniture designed to be easily customized to fit a space, or change functions entirely over time. Customers can clip on a lamp, or side table, or in a few minutes turn the sofa into a bed.
The concept is part of a broader push at IKEA to cater to the world’s fast-expanding urban population, living in increasingly cramped spaces. That effort entails designing products intended to maximize space, including multipurpose furniture and indoor hydroponic units.
The new sofa will be called Delaktig, Swedish for “being part of something,” and is expected to hit stores in early 2018. Other IKEA offerings already allow for some customization, for example, with replaceable colored covers. With the new piece, IKEA is opening the door for customers to experiment more fundamentally.
Delaktig’s design will allow third-party designers to create complementary products that can attach to the sofa or modify its use. Students at an IKEA-led workshop at London’s Royal College of Art came up with a clip-on privacy screen, a baby’s crib and a wall of shelves, among other designs for the product.
The move is a further embrace of a trend the world’s largest furniture maker has been quietly monitoring for years. It has long inspired an online community of “hackers” who share ideas for how to modify IKEA products. They have fashioned wall hangers from IKEA’s wooden bed slats, turned dressers into desks and raised IKEA beds using its kitchen cabinets and drawers.
IKEA didn’t encourage the tinkering, but nor did it actively discourage the trend. A niche industry has now grown up making everything from sofa covers to decorative table legs fitted just for IKEA’s particularly shaped furniture.
Sweden-based Bemz AB, for instance, makes covers for IKEA sofas, footstools, headboards and armchairs. They can sell for more than the furniture itself. Prettypegs AB, also based in Sweden, makes decorative furniture legs for IKEA beds, tables and stools.
The new product takes customization in a slightly different direction. Delaktig will feature an aluminum frame and a base made from slats—like a typical IKEA flat-packed bed. It comes in different sizes, with optional armrests, a headboard and a sofa back that can be clipped on depending on what the furniture is being used for. IKEA said it plans to price Delaktig in the middle of its sofa range, which runs from $399 to $899.
Delaktig’s metal frame also contains a series of grooves that take a standard-size bolt head, allowing people to make and clip on any number of items themselves.
IKEA will initially sell an optional clip-on lamp and table to be used with the product, and plans to roll out more accessories in time. It believes third-party designers will create other items. Tom Dixon, a British designer who has been working with IKEA on the product, says he is envisioning possibilities like a bunk bed, or incorporating lighting in a way that turns a bed into a giant lamp.
“One of the inspirations for the project was the hacking community that exists out there and the idea that there might be things that we can’t think of that people might want to add,” Mr. Dixon said.
Unlike IKEA’s other sofas, Delaktig can be flat packed, making it easier to take home. It is also built to last for - and be modified over - several years.
IKEA said Delaktig was inspired by Apple Inc., which helped create today’s app universe by allowing developers to create them for the iPhone. The company said it is also taking a page from the car industry, building a common, resilient platform upon which to create different models.
“We’re seeing IKEA’s business model evolve,” said Lesley Pennington, Bemz’s founder. “It shows an openness on IKEA’s part that we’ve never seen before.”