Monday, October 2, 2017

ToDo 2018 - U [can] 2 - Design Festival



Chapter 1 - ToDo 2018 - January 2018


TITLE of the show - U [can] 2.

I feel so much pressure now - the event is going to span 2 days. Whereas last year, it was kind of an opening for me - I did just one day; I had a piece on display; I did a 2 hour talk - this year, I am carefully contemplating how to structure the event.

There are several issues that I want to raise with the public - draw attention to, illustrate, inform. It’s gonna be an IKEA Hacking Convention 'part deux' - U [can] 2. Firstly, it will all be about IKEA Hacking and furniture design - the practical, philosphical and whimsical. I will be focusing heavily on DESIGN aspect of IKEA hacking - what can you, as a designer, as a maker, as a Do-It-Yourself person, can achieve by sourcing your 'base elements' at IKEA.

IKEA is an unique entity that more and more is intertwining itself into the fabric of urban environment, and by doing so, has the ability to exert great influence over lives - steer them, whether we are conscious of it or not. For starters, it is a leading global suppliers of furnishings for the masses - affordability is at the core of IKEA - that is by design, fully intentional. But being affordable does not mean that it is ‘cheap’ - their SEKTION kitchen system is amazing it what it achieves, for example; and their Billy Bookcases can be turned into a million other looks - check out my work! COME to the show!

By being such a retail giant it influences manufacturing, sourcing, automation - IKEA influences technology and models of production. Who wouldn’t want to supply to IKEA?

It is influencing Design - this one I am really thinking about. I mean, c’mon! TOM DIXON is doing it! I AM GONNA TAKE ON TOM DIXON! 

Nah.... just kidding!*

Yea, there is just sooo much! IKEA is taking baby steps in terms of ‘the Future’ but I am certain that its designers are predicting the wants and needs of millions of individuals as I am typing this right now! Just think - they introduced a lighting system that you can operate with an app on your phone - the Internet of Things. Imagine how simple that ability is - flick a virtual switch - ON or OFF. But IKEA also makes fridges and other appliances… You’ve seen those ‘smart fridges’ with built in technology, large touch screens and internet connectivity, right? I don’t doubt that IKEA is already working on that technology. Not only that, it is further contemplating the implications of that, ‘how do we expand on that?’, ‘how can we influcence the users?’. I know I would be asking those questions!

I really do think that there is a certain bifurcation in design happening - images that I study on Instagram is one example that I can cite - I want to say it is the 1% and the 99%. I know that it is often a polarizing, inflammatory statement to make, but IKEA really is kind of flattening this ‘contrast’. IKEA products feature an incredible wealth of technology, innovation, creativity - those are the commodities of the future. My work, my labour, my products, things I make - their value lies in the ‘craft+design’ - my ‘old-school’ woodworking skills combined with the creative component of problem solving in a beautiful way [or so I would like to think; you be the judge]. So we kind of overlap with IKEA at the ‘starting line of design’, and then, after the gun goes off, when we start racing head to head, we discover that we are not really racing, that we more likely skip along…. holding hands.


I am a product of IKEA. IKEA created me.

Crazy.

Billy Bookcase hack - still needs to be painted; Tiles need to be done; TV needs to be hung. Work...work...work...




[picture shows a built-in Billy bookcases - an IKEA hack - done by Studio Kosnik]

*but I will try! hee hee hee.....

Monday, September 25, 2017

How to hack the ALGOT system - OPTIMIZE!


[picture shows ALGOT shelving system installed by Studio Kosnik inside a sliding-door closet]


Chapter 1 - Algot Love

It is the most annoying when an article that you want is not on sale at IKEA. Usually you can expect that a product line that you want to purchase - and thus massively improve the functionality of your space, could be PAX or Sektion or even Besta - will go on sale at least once a year. I would say do all your planning first and then purchase when the sale hits. If you need an installer, research one - when the time hits it will be a seamless transition - from the box to the wall. There! Fixed to the wall - means it is safe - done PROPERLY. 

SO with EXCITEMENT I learned that the IKEA threw a wardrobe sale. Nah, I wasn't looking at PAX - although NOW IS THE TIME TO BUY THEM. I was looking for ALGOT**. Algot is this great system that I think is only now getting the recognition that it deserves. 

What is ALGOT? - ALGOT is a wall mounted, modular, very flexible storage system. I imagine the beginnings of ALGOT in a scenario like this: IKEA designers said 'let's design the best wall mounted system that will be very cheap to produce, fairly easy to install, and will offer a great number of storage options.' And they did just that. ALGOT is sooo awesome - it is simple, and intuitive and works well across other IKEA platforms - like boxes and baskets. 

Because it is so utilitarian - it ain't a looker - it is best if it is hidden from view - like a small, maybe cramped, walk-in closet; floor-2-ceiling slidings doors closets are good candidates for it too. Walk-in pantries are a good match with ALGOT. 

A small, cramped walk-in closet transforms dramatically with some new lights and two walls of algot - this one is for 'HER'. 




[picture shows an inside of a small walk-in closet that features ALGOT shelving unit - for 'HER']

First of all notice the integrated hanging rods below the shelves. That allows you to hang your jackets, shirts, etc. - anythings that requires a hanger. Below that are the pull out baskets - think socks, and small stuff that needs organizing and you got bazzillion of. Next to it, on the bottom is a shoe rack. Got more shoes? You can always box them and store them above, right? AND that tall space? Well, that's for your 'long things' - like jackets or dresses.  

Other side is just shelves and pull out large baskets. Of course, keep in mind that those dynamic components are NOT as sturdy as a built PAX drawer, or a custom built drawer /w BLUM slides. Ahh no....   but you know what? I don't really care that much - I can put up with a bit of flimsiness when it comes at such an awesome price - check out the pricing on the combinations, it really is incredible. 



My fave portion of this closet? You know what? Surprisingly..... It's that single vertical rod with all those baskets! I think that combo is like within $60 Canadian, and you got tons of storage off a single stud! Belts, scarves, little things - pair that up with a mirror and it's an 'accessories blast' - just sooo much storage for little things. 

Alright, so OK - ALGOT is awesome. So where is this ALGOT hack? What is this awesome hack that you speak of Karol? 

OK- here is the greatest ALGOT Hack of all times - hahahaha! -  so I was doing a pantry one day - small, windowless room, right next to the kitchen - about 36" wide by about 7 feet in length. I don't know where you shop 4 food, but one of MY favourite stores to shop for food is COSTCO. And as you can imagine, COSTCO sells COSTCO size packages of food. 

- 32 cans of club soda? [i think, check!]
- giant bags of dog-food - I got a dog; small, but it still eats;
- rice bags - 50lbs;
- boxes of cans, etc. 

So think, that part of the solution will have to involve moving, big and heavy bags and boxes on and off ALL THE TIME. That is what I call a dynamic load - and you know what? - drywall ain't the best for holding fasteners that are used to attach the vertical rails of the ALGOT system. Eventually they will fail, and when that happens, I know - no, I am certain - that I will get a call back. Call back along the lines - 'Yea, hi Karol, the shelves you mounted are NOT sturdy....'. And you know what? - I don't want that. SO while it easy to plan to catch SOME of the verticals on the studs [every 16" or 24"] but you can't catch them all.... or can you. 

HERE IS THE SOLUTION:



[picture shows a diagram of ALGOT shelving unit with backing strips installed] 

Grab a sheet of 3/4" Douglas fir ply, good-1-side - that means that the sheet has one nice face - that's gonna be the visible face. Rip it down [cut it lengthwise] into 3" strips. Install those strips horizontally on the wall - the top strip should mark the top of the vertical rod, and the bottom strip should mark the bottom of the vertical rods. Space the other two strips equally between the top and the bottom. Use adhesives on the back of those strips [I ALWAYS us adehsives - PL500 is my favourite] and screw them to the studs [or drill them into concrete if you have to]. Wait one day for the adhesive to set - those strips will be ROCK solid!

NOW proceed to install the ALGOT vertical rods! With the nice looking [that's why 'good-1-side'!] plywood as your back-up for screws you do not have to worry about the holding power of the screws in drywall OR the spacing!  Use #8 woodworking screws and it is solid. 

Just as a side note - when I was done with that pantry, I did some calculations - totally maxed out those IKEA Algot shelves - 3600 lbs!. 3600lbs of food could safley be stored on those shelves! Too bad I don't have pic of that project - lost my data to a computer crash - BECAUSE my computer was not connected to the cloud at that time.... 



** it is with greatest disappointment I learned that ALGOT is not part of 'wardrobes, but HOME ORGANIZATION?

Sunday, September 3, 2017

IKEA 2018 Catalogue* - Review - *this is crazy!

first impression

*I star it because I have the Canadian edition. But the personal stories in the catalogue are international - you really do feel like a citizen of the world reading it. SO accessible - I think every household in Toronto gets one in the mail, and I am certain that if you did not get one than you can call up IKEA and request one. In this digital age, print format still rules - I was surprised how many people 'phoned-in their RSVP' for my show/talk last year, even though instructions were clear to reply by e-mail - technology can be a barrier to some. 

Back to the catalogue, though! It's wonderfully square, reading it feels like browsing on a wide screen - a nice comforting feeling, a lot of us are used to that 'widescreen format'. Paper good as usual, glossy, good quality print. 

I will not talk about the tastefully arranged interiors featuring exclusively IKEA products - encompassing all aspects of living. The offering - products and ideas - is so wide, that it boggles the mind how one company can manage to do it so well. Their size makes them incredibly influential - with great power comes great responsibility - and IKEA shows how to do it well. 

*edit: but I will say that a lot of the floors in that catalogue are crazy expensive - I don't know if you can get more expensive than large format herringbone, for example - having done a lot of floors in my life. 

If IKEA is paying any attention to what is happening in the world of design it will not be able to avoid the fact that it's products are hacked. I defined it as a conscious creative act of taking an IKEA product and altering it in a way - can be creative or utilitarian intent. You cannot imagine my glee when I read that there are 2 [TWO!!!] chapters dedicated to IKEA hacking! One - on an individual level - how can one become a hacker themselves! Yeezus! Straight from IKEA's mouth - that's a legal statement I would argue! For sure that chapter was very well reviewed by IKEA legal. 

Another chapter - IKEA + Tom Dixon. Shut up! Tom Dixon?!! Tom Dixon is probably the most well known and respected name in Design - a giant monolith with no natural predators - Wikipedia lists him as a self taught designer - I carefully studied his furniture designs - I am furniture designer myself [I list that as my obsession] - so I would like to say that even though I am nowhere near the greatness of Tom Dixon, I can say that we share similar experience of designing furniture - if not passion for furniture. AND they use the word 'hacking' - this is a first too! Official! Printed copy 4 every1 2 see! That's a legal statement - right there! I guess all the big lawyers at IKEA had a meeting - I wonder if their team is international? like they have someone from the US / N. America?, surely there exists a European Union division - so they had a meeting, and they figured it out that this 'IKEA hacking' isn't going away, it's here to stay and likely get larger, so might as well take a stance on it. And what do they do? What is IKEA's opening salvo in the IKEA Hacking world? - TOM DIXON. That's HUGE! 

So, imagine that in the world IKEA Hackers - usually, average ordinary people - Community* - mind you on the crafty and creative side, but never really big, famous names - maybe with the exception of that Balenciaga, $2145 knock-off of IKEA Frakta bag ! [get out of here with your knock off Balenciaga! and c'mon! $2145 for a bag like that?!! that's undemocratic!! - I yell from the stage]. And suddenly you get the biggest name in design thrown in! Is that even compatible? What will be the result? There is a process - I have to read more in-depth to cast my verdict though. Curiosity though! - the final 'hacked' product will be available both at IKEA and Tom Dixon - I am wondering about the price point, go check out Tom Dixon on-line

*First edit: This collaboration, with the participation of Tom Dixon's students from the design classes that he teaches at renowned and prestigious design schools - they floated some interesting ideas - but it appears that anyone will be able to collaborate on the design with IKEA. I think this is the world's first such 'relationship' - the scale - 1 to 1 - an individual with a giant. I mean, relationships like these existed before - design butique firms that specialize in small batch productions, productions that larger companies just would not bother with, there is no money in it. And here we are facing the case of 'the smallest batch production of 1'. It is as if we are back at the arts and crafts era, when jobs were artisanal - people were making in a fashion that a broom-maker could exchange work with a shoe-maker or a baker - very intimate personal relationships. Maybe I am thinking too much about it. 


Anyways, it's late already and I got to wake-up at a decent hour tomorrow. Rest assured I will add to this later.

Ciao!
*I defined IKEA Hacking by its three core pillars - Accessibility, Affordability, Community, 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

IKEA Doors - 'Think-Do' Review

Casual Design - bookcase? tree? This is a more complicated design - better looking in my opinion - allows for greater creativity - still DIY friendly. 




Chapter 1 - IKEA Doors - Ethical and Philosophical Review. 

You know how margarine was invented? It was the war and Napoleon needed to feed the masses. Cows typically not doing well during wars, so there was a shortage of milk and thus shortage of butter. Butter is essential to cooking - yeezus! I love cooking with butter - it carries the flavour of everything so well. Pastries are not the same without it. Essentially there is no good life without butter, and Napoleon knew it. So he put out a call to French scientists - 'come up with a cheaper, mass producible, more accessible alternative to butter, so that everyone can a good life!'. And the French invented margarine. 

IKEA Sektion doors are like margarine - accessible and affordable to everyone. Anyone can have a good looking kitchen. With proper detailing you can replicate many cool looks - but you already know it - you've seen it done, I do it. 

Why am I writing about doors? Well, someone wrote in asking about making a set of doors. I am like, 'sure'. This person shares with me her reasoning for asking me - one - she read my review of the Veddinge doors and - two - she wasn't too keen on the Kungsbacka finish - the finish apparently shows every greasy print [that's black doors for you! - I haven't reviewed the Kungsbacka doors - maybe it's time?].

And then I checked my stats and realized that particular review of the Veddinge doors is a major draw and gets some discussion on forums - 'it influences decisions'. I am not a fan of Veddinge because of very specific reasons. 

But you know what? I don't want to be 'that negative guy'. No! I am going on the record and say that Veddinge is a very awesome door - READ the REVIEW.  I think that if you are OK with the colour of it and can put up with the issue that I outlined [AND enjoy the benefits of Veddinge that I outlined as well!], that you should totally go for it. It is so affordable and easy to replace - and really, how often do you damage your kitchen doors? And when it does happen -  You are not sweating it - because it is easy to find identical replacement - just go to IKEA! Occasionally I purchase an extra sheet of laminate for doors and give it to the client,  just so I have easy sourcing in case I ever need to replace something for them. 

And don't be jealous of other custom rich looking kitchens - Insta is filled with them - 'tag your bestie' kind of thing - yea....mmm..hmmm. This incredible opulence, rich finishes - typically at that price point there is a designer, so it is well executed - but I sometimes ask, 'is it necessary?' Imagine how they must 'dance around the cabinetry' - or their servants - not to damage it. Because I will tell you that it is next to impossible to do a replacement job well. And knowing the low risk of ownership of IKEA's Sektion you can now be more cavalier with cooking - even with butter!, which by the way is very greasy and will leave greasy splotches behind. 

Yep, butter leaves greasy marks behind. 

But that is what kitchens are - dynamic greasy environments. To take away from that would be like taking away butter from cooking - what's gonna carry the flavour? 

Do you like cooking? 
I like cooking. And I personally don't want to be worrying about doors and drawers while I am doing it. It's reasonable - makes most sense - brings out the most pleasure out of cooking - brings the most pleasure out of life!

I believe that it is very important to find things that work for you - serve you best. I have written about this before - IKEA hacking is the way to go with affordable cabinetry. If you are are a DIY person - meaning you will plan, design and create your own kitchen, then don't let me sway you away from purchasing Veddinge doors! 

When someone hires me to do their kitchen - my first instinct is always to suggest IKEA doors - not my own! I want your dollar to carry you successfully as far as it can. I want that dollar that you've worked hard for to give you maximum results. 

Alright, so we can't quite achieve our goals with IKEA doors? What are the alternatives? What is the next step? I still want to use the IKEA box and hardware - let's make use of what is readily available to us first. 

Veddinge is also a great modern clean look - nice designs can be achieved. Why wouldn't you want to get that look? My only difference is the availability of colour - so if you want something other than white, like a grey or whatever - you can have it. It's a square nice profile, I design killer fillers for it - looks like a million buck$ - panels I usually build out to 1 1/2" or 1 1/4" and come with some features that make them last a long time - definitely longer than standard panels. 

Ok, so if I was to make en ethical pitch for why I would consider my doors - that would be variety combined with durability. For lowers, I only do laminates - they last and they are beautiful. Most reasonable choice for lowers - they hold up best - they will look the same year after year. Bulletproof. I can stand behind a product like that. 


Watch the story on Kungsbacka - this is a perfect marriage. Any kitchen doors will show grease - the question is how effortless is the clean-up. If it is easy to clean, then it don't matter that things will get dirty - CLEAN up is EASY. 

IDEAL DOORS DON'T EXIST. 

To be continued....