Monday, September 24, 2018

Confessions of an IKEA Hacker - The FUTURE of furniture.

[the picture shows a screengrab from website. It is a picture of a discarded desk lamp with a dark burgundy shade sitting on the sidewalk]

Oh I do believe that IKEA will achieve the goals that it sets out for itself. So when they write about - the FUTURE of FURNITURE - my ears naturally perk up. There is enough of talent working at IKEA - actually, dream positions. Dream position to develop a project like DELAKTIG - this was the first time that the design process was opened up like that, to the public [yea, I guess the intent was big and honourable, but it proves that synthetic, artificial design doesn't do it - it is not always successful. Sometimes it is important to start the research at the bottom, in an organic natural fashion. 

The DELAKTIG experiment reinforced my long held view that successful furniture doesn't start on a rendering software. Why? Because it takes great deal of understanding how to construct furniture - like physically build and assemble and glue together - to design furniture. I follow an Insta account, and it just so randomly happened that for part time job [?] she does furniture renderings - often times the burden of designing will fall onto her shoulders 'by nature'. And she does a pretty reasonable job of it, but occasionally I see conflicts, or the solution is not optimum - woodworkers frown upon 'not optimum solutions' - mainly costs [times + materials] - and that translates to losses. And when you are competing against IKEA, trust me! - you have to deliver top notch work. Why would people want to hire you? What is so special that you deliver that I can't get out of IKEA? 

When IKEA uttered that word - 'Peak Furnishings' - I was immediately hooked. I already knew that thousands of renovations in Toronto were based on the SEKTION box AND that lots of people came for expertise and advice to my blog. And what about PAX? Last night - a PAX text came in late - that's sign of Peak Furnishings - when you have a system that satisfies 99% of situations - yes there is 1 super custom kitchen constructed for every 99 Sektion design sales.

Is IKEA the future of furnishings? I think so. I think their new catalogue is a testament to it. I have had several strong urges to write a proper review - but it eluded me every time - YEA! This catalogue feels different - there seems to be a more pronounced turn, a departure from previous years [my favourite was 'Think CUBIC' - do you remember that one?]. Is the BILLY destined to become the bookcases for the masses? And look how ease it is to customize! - never underestimate the lure of a good Billy hack [easy to do!]. 

IKEA Hacking is the future of custom furniture - there I said it. 

Friday, September 14, 2018

IKEA Hacker ASKS - how much is YOUR OWN WORK worth to you?

[picture shows IKEA hacked Sektion box re-made into a bench, with a single Grimslov drawer face attached to a Maximera drawer; sitting on a custom base kick that was built according to instructions found on Kosnik's blog]

Chapter 1 - The Future of WORK - how much is YOUR OWN labour worth to you?

With the Design Festival deadline fast approaching I have been pondering a submission to present some of my work at the TO DO Symposium. SO every year the organizers put on an event where they invite professionals - designers, thinkers, scientists - to share their work, their research, their philosophy, their views with the audience. This year they are asking about 'The future of WORK'. 
For me the question rather seems - How do we see the future of LABOUR

I say it because a large portion of what I do - IKEA Hacking - involves creation of physical objects and thus my own physical labour.  More, it involves creation of physical objects that improve people's lives - so not only I fabricate but I also design. A firm believer in Democratic Design, I do not hoard my knowledge, but rather spread it, making it publicly available on the Internet - how do I hack the Billy bookcase? How do I extend the life of a PAX wardrobe? how do I free the SEKTION box from the rigid planner? Yes! - it is all available free of charge on my blog! 

I will save my best arguments for the actual presentation, but I will leave you with these thoughts - all linking to the idea of IKEA Hacking! - 

True STORY - 'IKEA is killing it'  - a quote from another finish-carpenter/cabinetmaker who decided to move from St. Catherines [so a small city well within reach of IKEA delivery or pick up...], ON to a remote village in the cottage country, just south of the beautiful Algonquin park. He says since the move his small shop has not stopped running building kitchens and vanities and closets. What does that indicate? And how would that small community react if suddenly IKEA kitchens became accessible in that region - how would the work dynamic shift in the region for all those cabinet making shops?

And most curious - I told him about how much a '10 feet  by 10 feet' kitchen costs to purchase at IKEA, including all the fancy doors. He was stunned because he never shopped at IKEA before. I told him - 'design your kitchen, rent a van and bring it all up here - you've got the skill to make it shine!' I knew that he was intrigued!

An anecdote - a friend tells me about an older co-worker who decided to quit his job and build his retirement house. Why? He has the skill to do it - a skill he acquired as a young man - and the savings of him taking 2 years off his work to build and manage the project far outweigh the costs of him hiring a professional builder to construct his dream retirement. Think about it - it is cheaper to quit and build [if you got the skill] then to pay someone to do it. Those are the realities. 

Observation - true luxury is being able to construct your own environment exactly to your liking - without it costing 'a million dollars'. Hmmm.... suddenly being a designer/maker is not such a bad gig at all... There are just so many things that you can personalize! DO a makeover on! Make it your own!

You know, I had a show few months back that I called 'Handy is the NEW COOL' - and I wasn't on the telly only because I was parking my car and the TV crew had to move on to deliver the content. 

Anyhow.... keep reading the blog - it's e-mails like these that make my day! - read on - from an actual e-mail - they hail from the most famous of New York City! - I love the BIG APPLE - I gave them some PAX advice - 'internacjonal'

'Hi Karol,

Sorry for the slow reply, we have been busy with a baby, but thank you so much for sending all of this! Very much appreciated and useful advice. We have been looking at some of your blog posts and it's really insightful - we're still doing our due diligence on the options but we might use your info quite closely.

Anyway, wanted to say thanks again and wish you were in the neighborhood to help us!

Cody and MK'


Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Confessions of an IKEA Hacker - Was DELAKTIG a DUD?

Chapter 1 - I wanted to DELAKTIG

I've always been active on the Toronto design scence [about 10 years now], more often than not my name was not listed in credits. That's OK, I think it is important to recognize that volunteering is an integral part of our society - everyone has some skill that they could volunteer to better the world around them.

Anyways, more and more I've been attaching my name to events that I organize, direct and deliver. They mostly focus on IKEA Hacking - read my blog back and you will discover it - because other than paying the bills, it also is an interesting snapshot of our society - oh I am talking PEAK FURNISHINGS here! - and IKEA is a force to be reckoned with. 

So I have to secretly admit that I was excited for the 'Officially sanctioned IKEA Hack' - DELAKTIG - Tom Dixon + IKEA collaboration. I was going to buy it and make it my own - I was going to hack it! MORE! I was going to submit for a Toronto Design Offsite Festival - YES! - this was Democratic Design at its finest.


Since its launch I have not been able to encounter a DELAKTIG in the wild - not in the store, ZERO reviews....crickets. Lots of fawning over the concept on-line - articles abound - excitement, pomp, cutting-edge. And yet it doesn't seem to be selling well at all. And nobody seems to be doing any hacking at all?

Watch the my video - reasonable commentary on the subject, if you ask me. 

Monday, August 6, 2018

IKEA Hacker SAYS - New GRIMSLOV - Gray vs White - which one has better Design Potential?


[picture shows a cut through section of Gray GRIMSLOV doors - a solid birch frame, with a thin particle core panel skinned in, likely, birch veneer; the doors features very crisp, small bevels and is sprayed with a matte lacquer - for hacking purposes the door is re-sprayable!]

[picture shows a cut-away section of White GRIMSLOV doors - a MDF sandwich, that creates illusion of a frame, that has been CNC routed to create generous round-overs that allow for the foil finish to properly stretch over the substrate; this door IS NOT suitable for re-spraying; pictures also the foil being peeled back to expose the MDF - it takes quite a bit of force to peel it back - it is a well made door]

VIDEO REVIEW link - GRAY vs. WHITE - which one has better design potential. 

Chapter 1 - Gray GRIMSLOV review

I made a video but still have to upload it to the channel - I love the new Gray Grimslov! What a nice door - very clean, I think that is what attracted me to it. When I caught the sight of it against all the other doors it was the tight gaps and crisp shadows [CRITICAL ON DOOR DESIGN!] compared to other doors. This is the closest that IKEA has come to 'Shaker Style' - of course Shakers have a rich and long tradition that you can research and even likely to pick up couple of DIY books with plans on how to replicate their very beautiful designs, not to mention building a very quality piece. IKEA's Gray Grimslov is different from Classic shaker. But you know what? - most people will glance at it and it will read Shaker to them [not to purists of course] and that is enough to sell that door. It is very reasonably priced - made in Hungary, sprayed light grey, true frame-N-panel door [solid birch frame with a tiny bevel, looks great and sharp; the panel is a veneered 3/16" [?] particle core with what I will guess is a birch veneer - a proper choice of a close grained wood. 


The white Grismlov is a thermofoil door - an MDF sandwich is made, which is them machined to create small roundovers that will ease with the stretching of the foil over it and DONE! One drawback, of the process is the fact that the round overs don't create sharp shadow lines -instead they are 'smooth, shade, transitions' - some people like that and some don't - so if you were to look at the white GRIMSLOV vs gray GRIMSLOV side by side you would immediately see how much crisper the gray one is. And if you are a keen designer, or a sharp-eyed DIY-selfer than you will spot that difference and then make an informed decision as to which one you prefer. OH! OH! You cannot re-spray white GRIMSLOV! - I mean you can, but I would never give warranty on such doors - spray over foil? - not sure how long that would last, and I, personally, want things that I build to last.