Monday, May 27, 2019

IKEA Hacking and the Manufacturing of LUXURY

Chapter 1 - Manufacturing of LUXURY

Ahhh! There is just such sweet delicious tension between the words 'Manufacturing' and 'LUXURY'. Ain't it? Luxury is never manufactured - Luxury is crafted by skilled individuals....


So about a year ago - I want to say - there was an advert that rippled thru the Toronto design community. It was something special - 'a dream design position'. That's right, you read that right - a DREAM design position, that is the exact wording that was used in the advert!.

 It was DREAM enough that I considered applying - before I reconsidered.

So what was this 'Dream Design Position'*? So there is this one design millwork company that I would consider quite reputable to work for; the owner is doing well and is a bit of a visionary but also a businessman; the company has a very generous budget to develop new ideas and manufacturing technology. Those three points, put together, set the stage for THE EXPERIMENT: To design a new line of successful luxury furniture

Now, back in the good ole' days [say the 40's or 70's or even 80's!] that was simple. Your piece had to have those three magic ingredients - 'Blood, Sweat and Tears'. It had to be made of precious resources that at least 2 individuals lost their lives extracting the material [BLOOD] - so say 2 lives were lost while the log was pulled out of the jungle; one was crushed by the log itself, the other life was lost eaten by a tiger; [SWEAT] it was a skilled blue-collar worker that manufactured the piece - the manufacturing facility was hot and humid, and there was no AC; the piece produced was a culmination of this man's lifetime of experience; [TEARS] - the final price had to be lowered by $200 to make the sale; the salesman cried as he would take home $200 less that day.

Then, more and more, actual 'design content' of the piece of furniture started playing a role. Corporate began to bleed into the residential - architects often designed furniture. Manufacturing was still based in North America so the jobs were here - and for some reputable companies it makes sense to remain in North America; I mean you can't truly imagine Herman Miller made in China, can you?

Ha! But that doesn't mean that we now do not have knock-offs! I once saw a replica of a Barcelona chair in a large super market chair flyer advertised for $200! Barcelona chair is licensed to Knoll, which last time I checked charges more than $6k for it. With markets opening up, China 'peacefully rising' it made sense for capital to move offshore and generate higher profits. I once did a beautiful IKEA Hack for a dentist who had a knock off of the Eames chaise-lounge so good, that at a first glance had me fooled. I congratulated him on his good taste, at which he point he blushed and admitted that it is a knock off. 

[To Be COntinued]

*I did not screen-shot the Insta post, which in hind-sight I should have done.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

AXSTAD door Review - YES! IKEA finally has a 'SHAKER door'

[picture shows IKEA's new AXSTAD door laying on a benchtop. The door has been cut in half and put together. The left half has the thermal foil at the cut edge peeled back to test the strength of the bond. 

Chapter 1 - Finally! AXSTAD door REVIEW!

I mean, if that is not the most requested look for custom doors then I don't know this business. Proper Shaker kitchens exude an aura of craftsmanship and quality - and people desire craftsmanship and quality from their kitchen. I have to say that there is also a certain charm in them. 

SO YEA! A properly detailed AXSTAD door will look amazing, it will be affordable, and it will pass for Shaker*.

And that one little thing - ***the bumps*** - it's easy to overcome, don't let that sway you away from purchasing. I will be using these doors on my projects. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

IKEA Hack - Game of Thrones Style!

[picture is a selfie by Karol Kosnik. He is standing on the IKEA showroom floor, having a light coloured sheepskin draped over his shoulder, in a fashion similar to main character Jon Snow on a popular HBO television drama 'Game of Thrones'.]

Yes, I will reach out to my Craft Family on the FABRIC side to find out how I can safely dye this sheepskin darker, a'la Jon Snow. For the next seven weeks this is completely acceptable fashion. Game of Thrones here we GO! 


Tuesday, April 9, 2019

How to DESIGN and BUILD large scale built-in using SEKTION.

[Pictures taken from Karol Kosnik's Instagram account. Picture shows a large, tall, spacious trade show booth furnished with IKEA's kitchen cabinetry. Tall, 4-door high cabinetry on the back wall has a mix of grey and glass doors with lights. Middle of the booth is occupied by a large island that features back-to-back cabinetry with a mix of regular and glass doors and a marble top. There is a gilded faux ceiling installed above the island that features large glass chandeliers and a stainless steel exhaust hood.]

Chapter 1 - Go BIG or go HOME

I snapped this photo at the Toronto Interior Design show. This was the last year of AKURUMs and LIDI gray - they were replaced the following year with SEKTION and gray BODBYN. This booth just felt so opulent - the size of cabinetry alone would normally put this project beyond the scope of a 'custom work' for an average homeowner. Even myself - a failed engineering student but a skilled cabinetmaker - this scale would be quite challenging.... if it wasn't for IKEA. 

AND.... I have to dig out a photo of what they did at the launch with SEKTION the following year! That's right - IKEA's SEKTION is the perfect vehicle for large scale built-ins. You will have to skip the kitchen planner tho - solutions such as these are not achievable in the planner. ADDITIONAL advantage is that by drafting old-school you get to think about your fabrication decisions - at least that is the case for me. Cabinetry is one of those trades where 1/2" over 20 feet is important. 

IKEA kitchen cabinetry - SEKTION - makes is very accessible to cover walls with boxes, all you got to follow is with a selection of one of their doors [lots of flexibility there too! - read on!]. And you know what else? IT IS CHEAP! In Toronto, any contractor that walks through your door  - 'Kitchens start at 35k' - and you know what I say? Give me 2/3 of that budget and we will make it look like a million bucks! And we are talking all the bells and whistles - interior lights, organizers, trays - everything that you need to really enjoy your kitchen. Don't get trapped in the pretty doors - that's only HALF of your kitchen. And don't forget the access to latest lighting technology at a FRACTION of the cost. Uhm hmmm....

Alright, we are leaving kitchens behind. 

This blog entry will not be a design guide [so how to make things pertty lookin'] - instead it will focus more on technicalities - how do I plan for and easily install stacked IKEA shallow Sektion boxes? Over the course of designing, hacking and building with IKEA I developed quick, accurate and easy to do steps that are intuitive and accessible.

Chapter 2 - OK, so how do I start?

Measure your space and select your door style. This project is MODERN, but I don't see why you can't choose any other door style. The door style choice will then influence the choice of hacked or custom elements.

[picture shows a drafted elevation, a line drawing - front view - of a built-in design using IKEA's shallow Sektion box. It features 3 rows of stacked cabinets with a custom void opening that is filled with a custom box.]

I raised this point before in my video, but the nicest designs are 'balanced and repetitive' - try to sticking to the same size door to 'create rhythm' in your design - often times smaller spaces require scaling '1 size down' in the door line up for more proportional look. The inverse is true - want to take advantage of a tall space? USE THOSE 60" doors! [for 60" doors I pair up a 40" box with a 20" box OR a 30"+30"] - they are great for super tall spaces! Do you see where I am getting? ------> I am designing just with doors. 


Chapter 2 - Design is DONE, start with the WALL

Walls need prep work - don't skip on this step. The results from the wall will directly transfer to the 'face' of the design*. The hinges do come with a generous, almost 1/8" of adjustment in every direction BUT that will only save you so much. 

Another point worth mentioning is the fact that you can use the SEKTION box for MEDIA - so plenty of cables need to be run, power made accessible - how do you deal with that? You STRAP THE WALL.  I use plywood strips - they are wide enough [about 6"] that they provide support for the metal rail AND the white plastic spacers nailed at the bottom of the cabinet. Remember that the thickness of the plywood will add dimension to the side panels! - they need to be covered on the edge - PLAN ACCORDINGLY. 

[picture shows a large, open white wall that has a series of horizontal plywood strips attached to it. Lowest strip has the IKEA metal rail attached to it and two SEKTION kitchen boxes are hanging on it]

In this instance, the wall behind is concrete. I just could not imagine drilling concrete for every screw that I wanted to put in. Instead the plywood is glued [I use the PL line of adhesives, available at any hardware store] and then screwed to the concrete wall through the drywall. It is solid - in shear those plywood strips are indestructible.  Strapping also allows you to deal with any unevenness - dips or bubbles - those things are never more than 3/4" of an inch in-or-out. 

You strategically leave some gaps in the plywood to allow for cable management - think ahead - will you be ever needing to do some speakers? power? gaming? whatever? Of course - YOU PLAN for that. Notice in the picture above I left some gaps in the plywood strips - I fed all my cabling for the media thru those. 


*I think this step translates to all trades - especially hardwood floors. If you don't prep up the floor it will look like sh*t.