Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Confessions of an IKEA Hacker - What about the Billy Bookcase? - Design Festival Entry

[picture shows a Studio Kosnik designed fireplace with media on-top, /w flex-panel; flanked by series of hacked, built-in Billy bookcases, featuring OXBERG doors, custom base, extra trim and crown mouldings] 

That's my entry to the ToDo 2018 Design Festival. I put it there so it lures the eyes, hopefully. But I do think that this is a nice design - the bookcases fit well, and the fireplace is media friendly [there is a hidden cavity that all the cables run to].

But for the show I am gonna produce some free-standing pieces - more like a nice piece of furniture - a bookcase that all you would need to do is just attach it to the wall. One is going to be modern - very modern. The other is going to be 'Fancy French' - I don't know why I keep calling it that, I guess when I am imagining the final piece, it draws heavily on those rich European interiors that populate my Instagram feed. Yea, I am a definitely a fan of 'trim' - I think a nicely design trim work can elevate the space dramatically, for a comparably low cost. I make it look like a million buck$!

Chapter 1 - The on-line listing is up for ToDo2018 - check it out!

I am gonna start the countdown to the show - that’s how much time I got to prepare, on top of doing working ‘regular job’. I am not complaining - I find that I resolve great deal of design challenges while designing and building for clients - and this show is not going to be different. I am a designer, creative-mind, first and I want to showcase that within the parameteres, resitrictions, of all the work that I take on. Often times it is on the aesthetic portion of it - I sneak in my passion for furniture design into it, by experimenting, see my Instagram to see what I am talking about. But a lot of the times it is just good, practical resolutions to problems like cable management and organization, or viewing angles, or ease of upgrades, etc. Often times I make some outrages suggestions that, as I put it, ‘are only limited by the cost to execute’ - we are not talking about some super fancy designs, more like ‘this, in my opinion, would be the absolute optimum solution for the use of this space’ - and it is often the combination of the flexibility of product and price point of IKEA.

Friday, January 19, 2018, is my PRACTICAL day - I will talk about SKETION and BESTA. I will talk about why I think those two are my ‘GO TO BOXES’. You know, IKEA Hacking is so incredibly popular with the DIY crowd that there are literally thousands of good and great hacks out there - just use the great GOOGLE search engine. It proves that there are some handy AND creative people out there - but they are amateurs, even when done by pros.


I know. I know. There are countless pro installers out there, BUT it is a rare occurance that the DESIGER ALSO INSTALLS. Usually those jobs are separated. The designers will work within the very restrictive IKEA PLANNER TOOL - make sure that there are no 'red areas' and stops. The installer gets a print out and does it.  I think that disconnect is a great barrier to creativity.


I mean, think about this - how many times will an individual design and install an IKEA Sektion kitchen? How many? 2 tops! I say! Now someone like me, who works with these boxes, over and over and over again. And thinks about how to optimize them and be more flexible with them ALL THE TIME - I tend to notice things - things that work really well… I notice things that improve your experience - small things that when resolved initially will down-stream produce a great installation experience - not just that! a great design! I will tell you, that IT IS THE GREATEST pleasure when you adjust your doors or drawer fronts - as that is the last step - and all the gaps are even and balanced and the design looks flawless… It is inspirational. That’s all I can tell you. When you step away from a project and you say to yourself, ‘You know what? I am done. Done. Done. Done.’ Because there is nothing absolutely that you can add or change anymore. Everything is perfect. That’s when I walk away from the project.

I think SEKTION especially - because it comes with SOOOO MANY styles of doors and panels and accessories - is great for desiging and hacking. It means less sourcing out and more of focusing on making it look nice, NO!, making it look like a million buck$. Hahahaha! 

Yeezus! I am just having too much fun.

Chapter 2 - Yea, it is scary.

Because it is really serious. In some ways my career will be defined by these events that I put on - it all has to be top notch content. And some topics.....? Controversial...... Non-main stream. But I think it is unavoidable - some things are changing and taking on new directions and it just HAS TO BE SAID, someone has to be first.  

Why? Because I think I make the right observations. Maybe because I am *********. Yea! I am gonna reveal something personal about myself, which I think will be a big step forward for me, and hopefully inspire others.

I look back on my school experience with fondness, I was already a father - back when it was still Sheridan College, Craft + Design program. In my class, I met a very, very wise Indian man - he was Canadian, but born in India. I think he told me that he was a Buddhist. And he was an architect, with several years of experience under his belt, about 10 years older than me. I was attracted to his 'cool and wise' demeanour - I confined in him many times and he become - jokingly - 'my colour guru'. In his design practice he was already experimenting with 'form and colour', while I was still stuck in the 'structure and grain' phase - that's what I would call it.

AND HE TOLD ME - and that is precisely why 'Buckskin Baby Review' was created - over 120 pieces were written!; my 'de-stijl days' happened; large portion of my creative, unsold undertakings were built; this is why 'IKEA HACK' - he said - 'Karol, if it DOES NOT EXIST, and you feel very strongly about it - then you should CREATE IT.'

Yep, so here I am - 'creating'.

Hopefully it goes well. 


Monday, October 30, 2017

HDMDH* - Highly Decorative MALM Dresser Hack - my entry into THE SHOW

Chapter 1 - HDMDH*

[picture shows a 3 drawer IKEA Malm dresser hack - features decorative fronts and top, as well as a small backsplash element with accommodations for electrical and a decorative/functional leather strap for securing to the wall]

*Highly Decorative MALM Dresser Hack

I thought long and hard before I selected the image that was going to submit as the front cover for my Design Festival submission. Last year I knew I had a winner - that green, textured, funky print from ABET - which by the way is not available anymore - on another MALM dresser. It was eye catchy, colourful - on top of the design being super functional and a pleasure to use. It looked great printed and attracted the eye on a screen. 

So I guess it was no wonder I went back to the dresser for my 'artsy' hack - yea, this year, it is going to be a bit more 'artistic'? - I want to say - I was eyeing that ABET sheet for a while, it is just soooo decorative; and definitely man-made vs. natural wood grains with a flair. If you come on the 'open day' - Thursday, Jan 18, 2018, I CLOSE AT 10 PM - you can freely browse the furniture, you may even see my 'famoose' base for my SEKTION islands - and at 3pm we will have a discussion about design, and more, deeper, about furniture design. I have some 'controversial furniture design' views, and what I am doing about it. 

Hey! if you are student [but anyone is welcome, if u wanna play hookie from work, by all means] and wanna skip design class for an event during the week, then make it this! Yea! when I was graduating I had big dreams; my designs were gonna change the world; I was gonna make a difference - 10 years later I will tell you that things turned out completely different than what I was expecting.

I will tell you that back in the day, when I worked for others, that IKEA was detested. It was taking work away - instead of getting a 'custom kitchen' - and you know what, those who really need a custom kitchen, will get a custom kitchen, IKEA is not for you - they would base their design on the SEKTION box. Floating shelves fabrication was decimated - that LACK design is just so affordable and so many options. UNTIL.... UNTIL, one day, my boss bought shelves from IKEA and he told me to cut them down, reinforce them back, and cover them in a laminate. It was the best $20 bucks he spent - I say - and he made money. IKEA Hacking.... it just makes sense.

MALM dressers are great for hacking because they are just flats. If you follow some of the work I produce - or actually all - it is a modern aesthetic. I love modernist architecture, follow some interesting to me Instagram accounts - there is such a beauty in that austerity. The 3 drawer MALM dresser is just that - I reviewed MALM dressers in the past, why I like them - it is an exercise in austerity; out of necessity I think, remember, it has to fit the 'light budget' IKEA model; and really what's wrong with pricing your furniture right?.

And so this time I wanted to go completely in the other direction. I WANTED for it to be highly decorative, I wanted for it to be PRETTY.  And I wanted for that decoration for have meaning, imply function - I found it quite difficult to get away from my typical rigid design nature. 

See for me furniture HAS TO BE FUNCTIONAL. Whatever it is, whatever it is made of, whatever the INTENT - it has to be functional. Otherwise it is not furniture. I strongly believe that furniture should be owned by people, many people, AND improve their lives. And as much as I believe in ART, I think the future of furniture is very, very much tied to its functionality. The decorative elements on my MALM hack - the circle, and the strap - have a specific purpose. It is as basic as - I hate when stuff falls behind the dresser, so there should be something stopping it form falling. And I hate when electrical cords are not managed. Every design that I do - HAS CORD MANAGEMENT - and the strap? well, you know, MALM dressers were re-called because they were falling over? Yea, well this model, REMINDS YOU, to 'fix-it-2-the-wall'.

Two more Billy bookcases to design. Got to go. 


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.


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

[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. 


[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?