Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Confessions of an IKEA Hacker - Retro Wednesday

I remember when....

in Toronto, Canada....long long time ago**....just over the Queen Elizabeth Way, IKEA used to have SEKSIG MAT events for couples - or singles - I believe in Swedish it meant, something like 'Sexy Wednesdays'. For $8.95 of Canadian dollars you could have gotten a 'three course meal' - salad or soup, main dish [usually meatballs or chicken with potatoes/fries] and a desert, ALL while listening to live [that's right! live!] classical guitar music. Placato - the name of the band, would set up their gear, all dressed in black and white - maybe even with bow-ties....can't recall exactly - and played gentle classical hits of the baroque [maybe rococo?], sometimes Mozart, occasionally Beethoven...I remember yelling out 'Encore!' and 'Bravo!' while the restaurant was filled with the sound of clapping...Placato gently bowed in acknowledgment and would plunge into another classical one-hit wonder....

I tell you people....single tear streaming down my cheek.

Me and my wife felt so sophisticated, attending every week. It almost felt like the opera - with the advantage [!!] that you could bring a toddler to the event, because we already had my first son. So even thought the baby would yell out for more food - sometimes, or wave his spoon splattering the organic carrot puree around, we were never shusshed [shhh!!!!] by other lovers of classical music covers done on a guitar....who usually had brought their own babies to the well.

Good times...Good times...

Does anyone else remember this? Did you attend? Was it a world-wide IKEA phenomenon? Or were we blessed living here in the good city of Toronto? let me know...I'm curious. 

More, in fact I am assembling materials for an IKEA memoir - hopefully it will be published one day....

**not that long time, 10 years to be exact.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Official Launch - 'KingK + QueenT' - line of super-luxe IKEA Hacks

Chapter 1,

'Hey! I make it look like a million bucks!'  [c] studio kosnik

I am officially launching my line of luxury hacks - specifically hacked IKEA doors. The quality of their top-of-line doors is incredible - made in Sweden, made in Italy. It's called KingK + QueenT.

Check it out!

More great KingK + QueenT doors pics coming soon!

BTW - that is a PAX wardrobe that's been hacked to fit a 12" deep alcove. A really high-end linen closet [it's on the way to a home office...all of YYYn's  clients will walk by and say, 'WOW! Looks like a million bucks!]

Chapter 2

IKEA has an extensive line of cabinet doors - they are production doors. This is not of particular issue if you are ordering cabinet doors in solid colours - they are all identical and of superb quality. BUT - if you are ordering any of those modernist slab veneer doors - it is a patchwork! Being an IKEA no.1 fan and a designer, I will argue that it does create a unique look, well suited to some environments. 

But what if you are an architect/designer that is looking for an 'on-the-budget' solution that is a little more 'quiet', 'less-busy' - say rift sawn, horizontal grain, white oak or walnut doors, with the grain tracking across the entire project? Like this for example - 

The IKEA model can't do that. But I can! - and it will be an 'on-the-budget' solution AND totally compatible with the 'IKEA standard'. Ask a question, get a quote. I do that free of charge! That's right! Advice if free, I start charging when I have to take out my hammer. It's like getting custom doors on sale at 50% off [well, maybe more like 33% off - but still an awesome deal!]

Chapter 3 

I love IKEA Hacking!

Here is a nice, hacked, totally built-in, 'floating', PAX wardrobe with sliding doors. As far as I can tell, I am the first one to offer hacked sliding doors on IKEA's PAX [it really is experimenting - developing the right methods and techniques!] How far can I push this IKEA hacking? I am a very ambitious individual, PLUS, I've entered into a professional rivalry with another creative individual - all good times, good times....but you know how these things can get out of hand...]

Chapter 4


All the work that is featured on the pages of this blog is fabricated using modified IKEA products - doing so totally voids the IKEA warranty, but don't fret, Studio Kosnik extends that warranty by another 20 years [minus wear and tear in legal jargon++].

 The author/fabricator is a well experienced, professional woodworker + designer, with access to professional tools and equipment. Some of the methods/techniques shown are being pioneered [I feel like sir Edmund Hillary scaling the IKEA Everest...]**, and require intimate knowledge and understanding of industrial production methods. IKEA hacking is a popular and a world-wide phenomenon - I scour the web for those. Small things are a-OK! 

Occasionally though I cringe - properly hacked seating means that one anticipates that there may be two grown adults standing on it at one point [like, changing a light-bulb for example...] and a cardboard honeycomb, light density lamination sandwiched  between two 4mm skins is inadequate for that purpose; children's hacks are an issue sometimes - 'I got four of me own babies' and they push the things I build to the MAX!; heavy modified doors require solid supports in specific sections! Be cautious when hacking heavy, structural elements. Exercise that common sense muscle.

A very important philosophy that I have integrated into my business model is the Principles of Democratic Design - that's the foundation that the IKEA monolith rests on, affordable design for all! Occasionally, I give out free advice! Sometimes a project is simple enough that instead of me charging YYY for the project, instead of a quote I will e-mail back saying something like -

'Consider this, all you need is a cricular saw/jig saw. Make a template out of 1/8" masonite, because cardboard is too fragile, clamp things securely, and then....'

You will not get an extensive essay - as those take time - more like a quick point-form guide. People love it! It's not always applicable though, I only do that if I deem the project fits a my own rigorous [read: safe] rules and I feel that there is really no need to hire me. Of course, please remember, you can always hire me if you want. 


** Yes, I feel like sir Edmund Hillary climbing the IKEA Everest. Ha! If I only had my sherpa - Tenzing Norgay... Studio Kosnik is different - people don't work for me, they work with me. I expect ambitious creativity and dedication - the individuals that I occasionally hire exhibit excitement and passion in their line of work. I expect to be challenged and questioned on my decisions [which are final, but reasonable and well thought out]- that's the only way we deliver great results.

In my professional career I keep track of individuals whom I encountered and whom have made a personal, positive impression on me [I have been awed professionally several times...]. There have been three so far - all young, energetic, driven, ambitious do-goodnicks - and they all refused my offers to work with me - for now, I'm very stubborn.

One spends his days building homes [with a government grant] in native communities in northern Ontario, Canada - 'he's staying there till the money runs out, it's personally rewarding work' he says. Another one is agressively expanding her father's non-woodworking business - a natural born businesswoman - but she studied woodworking in college and she loves it! I know it! She's got a small shop in her father's garage - very creative. She refuses out of stubbornness, that I would not let her be in charge of projects - we've worked together in the past. The third, the 'wild card', left Canada and is currently 'traveling the world to find himself'. I told him - 'Listen, traveling the world and finding yourself is expensive, you will need a job when you get back'.

Ahh...youth...cut your hair, get a job!
 best if you get a job with me. 
- that's my line, and you can quote me on that.

Never the less, I am still currently searching for a sherpa... If you read this blog, and live in Toronto, Canada, and in your mind your are saying 'Holy COW! Sounds awesome! I want to be part of IKEA hacking! Than don't hesitate - 
send me your basic resume + a minimum 50 word essay on why you enjoy woodworking. And we will go from there. 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Confessions of an IKEA Hacker

It is really nice that the company is growing. IKEA hacking is very popular, very popular. I am discovering that I am getting an increasing number of inquiries from the professional crowd - designers that design with BESTA [media], architects renovating and using the AKURUM [kitchen series], lawyers who want a PAX wardrobe built-in. 

And when I tell them that what I can with the cabinetry - give it a totally custom spin. 

'I make it look like a million dollars', is the phrase I use. To start off, IKEA makes it very easy. Few facts:

A] the white IKEA PAX boxes are made in Italy. That's right, when you hack a PAX box, that's all Italian quality. I theorize that the foil finish on the parts requires a highly dedicated technology + good skill to produce it and the quality control must be well above average. A $1 savings on the box would have shifted the production to China. 

B] Their top of the line, high gloss, hinged doors are made in Sweden, IKEA's fascinating and picturesque homeland - hey! everything I learned about Sweden I learned from IKEA. While hacking these high gloss doors into a super-luxe hack - they really do look like a million dollar doors! - I had the pleasure of cutting into them. The quality of the manufacturing process is superb. They are post-formed doors - the core is light density particle core [I assume it is organic**, will say more about that later]; the laminate is best described a very smooth, fluid like, and very thick. Again, I can only speculate that the technology and skill to make these doors must be best in Sweden.

C] A curiosity - their short Billy bookcases are made in Sweden, while their tall Billy bookcases are made in Poland. This may seem trivial, but NOT to an IKEA hacker. This was a quite a detriment on a job once - cabinetmaking is a profession that thrives on consistency and accuracy. A minute manufacturing discrepancy between the producing country resulted in a 1/4" error over a row of cabinets, resulting in a time delay and wasted materials - I had to remake a large number of MDF face-frames as they ended up being too narrow. 

All this experience and knowledge of the product line allows me to create modern designs that easily command double the price.  As I see it, IKEA hacking is a philosophy of being smart with the way you spend money - no reason why IKEA cabinets, appropriately arranged, properly installed, a customized pre-fab, can't look like a very high end custom cabinetry that you'd expect from a custom Italian manufacturer AND more!

Of course the Chinese can't be beat on some things - like lighting and LED strips for PAX wardrobes. But that is OK - the decision to manufacture such elements in 'low'er" wage country makes them affordable. To add, the IKEA shopper should never feel [or even consider] ethical dilemmas, as IKEA spends a lot man-hours [or woman-hours] to ensure that their design is top notch and produced in an environment that is 'fair trade' [to borrow from the 'hipster, good coffee' terminology]. IKEA is the finest example of Democratic Design that I know - affordable good design. 

I can help.
Call me. 

** the Europeans have, especially the Nordic countries have such a strict environmental standards that I bet you could add that 'green core' to your meal in the morning, and there - your two servings of fruit/vegetables for breakfast out of the way!