Swedish furniture-maker IKEA hardly condones it, but its near-ubiquitous and easy-to-assemble products are a favourite for creative hackers who modify them for new uses. IKEA's furniture also presents a ripe opportunity for other companies to invent completely new add-on products to accompany existing IKEA stuff in a growing aftermarket industry.
But it seems that the company is finally now positioning itself to take advantage of this established IKEA-hacking trend with the launch of a modifiable, flat pack sofa that will have an evolving design. Dubbed the Delaktig sofa (meaning "participating"), the project actually began last year, and is an ongoing collaboration with British designer Tom Dixon and more recently, with design students from London’s Royal College of Art. But according to the company's announcement this week, the sofa will hit the stores by early 2018 and cost between USD $399 and $899.
The sofa's frame will be made out of lightweight and recycled extruded aluminum, and has standard-sized bolt holes to accommodate third-party add-ons like armrests, side tables, lamps and even cribs. Co.Design is likening it to an "interchangeable day bed" that is open source, much like an operating system that can be customized and adapted to the user's particular needs. It's all part of an effort for the company to think less like a furniture maker and more like a software company, as IKEA's creative director, Marcus Engman explained last year:
Open-source thinking is one of the things that I believe will affect a lot of the way we do things. When we look at mass production and what's 'good,' the measurements of quality are set by engineers. It's very much that everything should be exactly the same. But what if that's not the goal? Is [an experiment] 'wrong' but in the right way? That's how the software industry works and how they develop.
It's a step in the right direction. After all, conventional furniture is inflexible and pretty much well stays the same as the day you bought it. But a open-platform design like this would mean that as life's circumstances change, so can your furniture. Built-in flexibility in a design can go a long way, especially for smaller spaces, and a move like this just seems to make much more sense than clamping down on customers or even third-party companies for trying to make your products better, as IKEA had been doing a few years ago. People will hack and improve products to their liking anyway, so why not let them? More over at IKEA Today.