Friday, November 2, 2018

IKEA Hacker Says - How to make White GRIMSLOV look best.


[pictured shows a large window with an upholstered bench underneath, flanked by bookcases with lights. This is an IKEA Hack using the Grimslov doors, Sektion box, Billy bookcases, Omlopp puck lights and PAX strip lights. The lighting is controlled using Ansulta remote control] 

Chapter 1 - White Grimslov Hate


As a designer - so a 'built interior designer' , so I won't really accessorize or pick your throw pillows but I will help you set-up solid foundations for it, so built-ins, lighting, storage, organization, pretty furniture - I always strive [my duty! I say, lol] to create pleasant interiors. 

Most often it means selecting something from the IKEA's line-up, and most often it is Sektion or BILLY. I have been avoiding the white Grimslov [so that is Sektion] because I wasn't able to be successful with it - IKEA doesn't really make any nice 'sides' or mouldings that match that style. Grimslov essentially is an over-sized Shaker, and you can either live with it or you cannot. There is number of specific characteristics that this door possess - some of it is intentional, like the relatively large frame, or the soft radiuses which are by-product of the way the doors are manufactured - thermofoil door - they have to be that way. 

Most people that go to IKEA get 'trapped in the doors', what do I mean by that? IKEA has professionals that make sure that their kitchens look GREAT - optimized and maximized with accessories and lighting and all the other trinkets that you can buy at IKEA - but you have to look past that. And the doors are GREAT too - lots of cost effective options to satisfy any budget [I am genuinely mind-boggled that I can buy Ukrainian made Haggeby doors for $8 - eight dollars!]. But as more and more people want to utilize the price point in their renovation/decorating project they start looking for more. So we already know that the 'rock-bottom' is captured - but there exists a market just above that, that IKEA wants to capture - that's why the catalogue is 'different' this year! 

Some SEKTION side panels are shared across multiple door styles - it's the colour that unifies them. So as we have a great variety of doors, what IKEA misses are those 'trimmings' that give each kitchen its unique 'flavour'. So I want to say that for 'modernist' kitchens, like the RINGHULT for example, the skinny side panels work - well, because, simplified, that is the 'modernist kitchen'. But the same size panels completely DO NOT WORK for GRIMSLOV! I personally think it is a great clash - that frame is just too oversize and overpowers that skinny edge that is showing! Next time you are at IKEA, look BEYOND all the show and glitter, and just focus on the actual cabinetry proportions. 

This was particularly challenging on this project - challenging but refreshing too! You know why refreshing? Because I knew that this was no kitchen, I could do anything that I wanted without having to stick to restrictive dimensions and functions that working with kitchens brings - I just started experimenting. I have admit that my 'go to design exercise' is 'designing for myself' - I want to create something that I personally would like to have in my home. AND I am an optimizer! And there is just SOOOO much product - 'the bones' - that IKEA has to offer. No jokes, on this project, it seems, I grabbed a piece from every department! From Kitchens, and Bookcases, and Storage and PAX and Lighting! Of course there are custom touches on it too - my favourite I call 'deep beadboard' - I make it that deep to 'unsettle the viewer'; because I've never really seen anyone do beadboard in this fashion; it gives an illusion of great depth.




To Be Continued!







Thursday, September 27, 2018

Confessions of an IKEA Hacker - The FUTURE of furniture PART 2

[picture shows proud Karol Kosnik kneeling next to a rear wheel of a dark minivan, holding in his hands used break pads that he just changed. There is a large 3 ton car-jack on the ground as well. While I have your attention here - consider this question - how much is your own labour worth to you?]**



Chapter 1 - IKEA Hacking is the future of custom furniture 

Here is a little video I made - I am going to try to convince you to the truth of this statement!

IKEA Hacking is the future of custom furniture - oh what a sacrilegious statement! I can just hear those hundreds of students eagerly studying across countless of fine woodworking schools with super high aspirations handcarving dovetails hollering at me. I mean, why as society we would let people study craft - a skill - that they will not be able to find a demand for? Not yet at least - not in our current form of societal structure - but UBI will come, I am certain of that [read my back posts if you curious as to my views on society and design. Hey! I even put on shows and talks!]. 

About 10 years ago I was an eager craft/design student hard pursuing my love of woodworking. I already had a 'post-secondary education failure' - I went to U of T for I don't know what - and I was determined to be successful this time around. I recall my design school pieces to be overtly technical, but I was hoping that having balanced it with a solid, pleasant design, that 'technicality' would be lost when the viewer - or more importantly the user - would get to experience the piece. That's the attraction - making other people's lives better, I think that's very noble. 

Usually, education like that is paired up with some academic studies - history, culture, technology, the future - I want to assure you, we've all been there - to give the woodworker a great, more meaningful understanding in what they are doing - I do believe in 'woodworking ethics'. It is also during this phase that the hidden potential is unlocked - some people will discover that they have a natural predisposition for furniture design and what it entails. I assure you that it is most interesting to see a professional at work! Whether it is my shop colleague who is prototyping a solid wood chair [it is very time consuming!] or witnessing the prototyping of the Cloud chair [that was my lottery win! While on a scholarship at Nienkamper plant in Toronto I witnessed the birth of the Cloud chair! More! I got to upholster the base for it!!!!! I can't believe I got to do that - Thanks Monny and Dan!! Monny and Dan were a husband and wife team, leads for the upholstery department - that was my favourite]. But designer furniture like that, custom furniture is not common - in some ways, the inaccessibility was one of the criteria for its success. That will not survive the future, or rather the sales will become diminishingly small that it will not matter anymore.  




[BREAK - there us a portion missing here - it is important and I need to word it well, so took this out for now]

But until this dramatic shift happens - hopefully sooner than later - there is one fundamental that we can all count on - SALES MATTER - meaning things that don't sell die a slow commercial death.  Products that prove to be popular [such as SEKTION or PAX or Billy for example] become more cost effective and even more accessible - hey! some of them even are made in NORTH AMERICA! When I am able to use those boxes to construct not just kitchens or closets but many other traditional and non-traditional pieces - storage, tables, credenzas, chests of drawers, beds - we are talking countless of ideas that float around our shared experience that we call the Internet - virtually all 'inspirational images', because that is what I ask for when people reach out to me, are all IKEA Hacks. Occasionally I have to vet the designs for practicality or safety but you'd be surprised what people have built with IKEA parts!

Ask yourself this - what is CUSTOM furniture? I think most of us think of some sort of fancy piece that involved a highly skilled craftsperson and a designer. But what if I told you that CUSTOM furniture could be as simple as having a dining table fit properly in your own space by cutting down something that is ready made? Or extra storage that you purchase at IKEA, assemble yourself, maybe do some minor hacking, that fits under your bed and suddenly dramatically improves your life - it organizes it better - you immediately notice improvements in your daily routine, for example. That is custom furniture too! Improved functionality, great looks - something you love - that's CUSTOM FURNITURE! 

Yes, there might be a need one day for you to hire a professional like me to design and build you something that you cannot do yourself - maybe you lack the design skills, maybe you lack the technical experience, maybe you do not have access to a workshop. But NEVER underestimate your own ability to DESIGN - be inspired, be creative, to organize, to direct someone like me. Never underestimate your own craft skills [and IKEA makes it easy!] - to assemble, to install, to hang up, to do a makeover on a piece! 

Yes, CUSTOM furniture is those one-of-a-kind, 1900 hours+ of labour with French polish - but it is also the fruit of your own labour! Something that is unique, and personal, and totally you!*


And thousands of personalized unique interpretations vs. 1 rare piece? - yea, I will say it again - SALES MATTER. 

Ciao!

*the first thing that I always put in when I answer e-mails is 'BELIEVE in your own skills!'

** I put that picture up there for a reason - I am not a automechanic and I am not too crazy about getting myself covered in grease [that's why I love woodworking, it's a very 'clean profession' - I will sometimes wear nitrile gloves as not to get any sweat or oils onto a freshly sanded piece of wood] BUT if I did not do this job myself then:

A] I would be out of a vehicle for at least a 1.5 days - and I use my vehicle every day;
B] it would be an expense that I would have to pay for;
C] I know that the job is done right, with the right parts, just the way I like it - no shortcuts; 

Monday, September 24, 2018

Confessions of an IKEA Hacker - The FUTURE of furniture.




[the picture shows a screengrab from IKEA.ca website. It is a picture of a discarded desk lamp with a dark burgundy shade sitting on the sidewalk, ready to be picked up by the garbage collection people]


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 means to understand the human body, the human body language, the human psychology. 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!

Cheers,
Cody and MK'

Ciao!



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.

But...but...

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?

Was DELAKTIG a DUD? - VIDEO
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. 

Winner.

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. 


Ciao!



Friday, July 20, 2018

SO, You want to be an IKEA Hacker yourself - Beginner's Guide on how to become a Hacker

prelude
[picture shows a living room in a well decorated Toronto home. The featured wall has a medium size, well detailed fireplace with a stone insert; several candles in silver holders fill the fireplace heart. The wall is divided into section using ornate wooden trim painted white, against a light grey wall. A flat screen TV /w media sits on top the fireplace. The fireplace is flanked by dark grey/purple hacked IKEA's  ISALA sideboards - they fit perfectly and are a great match]

Chapter 1 - SO you want to be an IKEA Hacker? And make money on it? Ok, here is my advice.

At the end of my Maker Festival presentation, at the end of the Q&A a young man - about 25 years old - approached me and he said that he wants to do what I do. He wants to be an IKEA Hacker. I gave him couple of pointers within the short time that I had to vacate the room for next presentation - BUT I SAID - 'Check out my blog soon - I will post a HOW TO!'

Chapter 2 - This is it - how to become a professional IKEA Hacker.

This here advice is aimed at young people, simply because they have the time allotted in their lives to become proficient at it - plus they have better eyesight; you would be saddened to know that greatest desire to become a woodworker can be ruined with poor eyesight.***

When you become proficient at what you do for a living, then you can start making some serious money. The time and money commitment required to learn a trade is fairly steep in my opinion - it takes about 5 years. Challenge is that there is no 'school for it' - there is no school for 'Ikea Haclers' and it is very much individual driven. BUT, rest assure that the future of craft, skilled labour is, in my opinion, one of individuals running their own show. Running your own show allows you total, and absolute control of your life - professional and personal. 

If you are like me, then you are always on the clock.

If you love what you do; if you are passionate about the product that you are putting out; if you are keen on 'pushing the envelope' and want to make your mark on the world then you have to make this your life. Sounds too much? Consider this: I am Netflix and chilling at 10pm and an e-mail comes in - somebody saw my work somewhere and they are intrigued, they e-mail me - it's a lead.  It's another opportunity to realize your vision, another opportunity to create something beautiful - I immediately reply - I usually reply to a request within 15 min, pretty much up to 1am in the morning. 

This is called customer relations management - you have to become proficient at it. You want to stand out from a crowd of about 100 of other businesses that are vying for the same job - quick replies ensure that the customer is hooked. These days modern devices allow for almost instantaneous connection - seize that opportunity. That is what will differentiate you from the 'old crowd' - you are young, hip and dynamic - you are the new generation of tradespeople. 

STAY IN SCHOOL - today, anyone can graduate with a BA in anything* propelled by the bottomless pit of government backed student loans. I am stunned! Stunned, when I read how much debt people acquire in order to be plunged into a large pool of well qualified, passionate candidates with limited options of employment. I share a personal story - my grandma's [who is still alive] grew up in the 60's, worked in the administration of a medium size city in Poland, and was completely enamoured with 'engineers' - men wearing clean white, stiffly starched collars and dark ties with large rimmed glasses, who had access to  'at work bars' [heee heee heee]. They were a source of authority, people listened to them and addressed them as 'thank you sir', 'will do that sir', 'coming right up sir'. It has been her biggest dream that her grand children [and now great-grand children] be in a 'white collar' positions - dictating others what to do. 

Oh how the times have changed. Good quality education with excellent prospects is still very much in demand, but a simple BA does nothing, NOTHING for you! Even when it comes to engineering, being aggressive helps.

Vocational schools on the other hand offer solid foundation of practical skills - hands on skills that large commercial operators will require, AND, most importantly will be willing to pay top dollar to retain their top talent. If you are considering serious income than you should be looking at trades that will land you working on large government projects, publicly supported institutional expansions. It will be a seamless transition form school to a paid apprenticeship. 

Good trade programs will introduce you to range of software required to do your job well, that you potential employers are using. I personally heard on the CBC radio of two young women who went to trade school, who later realized that there is software niche to be filled and they designed an app that is used on mobile devices to manage projects across southern Ontario - trades can be hi-tech too - be open to new opportunities, seek them out, be pro-active, you may not end up banging nails every day for 10 hours, although in the beginning you might.

Chapter 2 Stay in school - DO YOU LIKE WOODWORKING?

IKEA Hacking is 3 things - Carpentry, Cabinetmaking and Furniture Making. If you must go to school then chose a cabinetmaking course. Cabinet making is a 'accurately close' to IKEA Hacking - I would not call IKEA furniture, furniture grade** See, I am a furniture maker - I love designing and building furniture; the only that is holding me back is the money - I can build you anything your heart desire. Cabinetmaking in modern wood shops has evolved - it is very much automated - when you get an order to bang out 120 kitchens, most of the cutting and joinery is automated - just look at the pricing on a SEKTION box. You will quickly realize that hacking IKEA is more efficient - meaning you can shift the dollar to the DESIGN, of which I will talk more too later; that's where you want to shine. Study well, graduate with high marks get an apprenticeship in a commercial setting - union jobs pay more and are steady. 

You know another advantage of working in a commercial setting? Projects change often and vary in size - knowing how to build a kitchen is great; executing essentially the same solid wood table is exciting - but you want variety. I worked in a commercial shop - I did acres of laminates [that's how I fell in love /w P-lam, as it is spec'ed out] - but also did large built-ins for exotic places; glued up solid wood benches for banks; made up some super-fine glass doors for some private-corporate box at a large sports stadium. I learned how to build and hang up frames for some pretty heavy-ass commercial doors! 

Working in commercial setting will let you experience and work on projects small, medium, medium large, large and gigantic. You will never know what drawing your foreman will give you as your next project. You will get to experience building projects by people light years ahead of you in the profession. You will be like me - 'Ah....that's the size to use on this scale.' Or - 'that's a reasonable choice for this structural member' - I have many mentors, and I have thanked them all personally for guiding my professional development. 

That's the advantage! Don't get stuck in super-fine shop that crafts its products for ages, that cuts its dovetails by the foot, that bookmatches every product  - there is no market for woodworking like this - sorry to be harsh. There can only be one Krenov or Wendell Castle - and you know what, au contraire what you might believe, you are not it - or - like, the chances that you are it are like winning the PowerBall or 6/49 - you know what I mean. It is better that you strip yourself of any romantic notions - because otherwise people will take advantage of your eagerness and good will. 

Now get your hands on IKEA products - start with installations first. Where I come from IKEA installers charge $100 per box - more for installations of kitchen islands. But there are hundreds of Billy bookcase purchasers that detest the assembly of that unit on Monday, after they purchased it in Sunday. Put in an add and start pricing yourself - let the market price you - if you can do more then you can start charging more. 

You will quickly realize how limiting the IKEA installation systems are. IKEA limits the installation systems for a reason - remember, they are designing this thing for masses, most of whom lack the experience, and occasionally can be quite litigious [especially in America]. The installation systems are accessible - that is the key - there is more people with less money, than there are people with more money. 

Now here comes you, with a good understanding of how to build boxes - that's right, they are just boxes. You can cut them down, you can add to them - a creative person will see a myriad ways of quickly generating nice design based on a clients inspirational photos. 

To be continued. 

*this is not a criticism. In a UBI society - which I firmly believe is coming; capitalist snake eating its own tail in annual 4% efficiency -  this will not be an issue at all. People will be most productive, and will want to contribute to society via their passion for labour. People will literally work 24/7 if they see a large, grander meaning in their work. The greatest gift that anyone can give or do, is the fact that they had meaningful contribution to humanity - 'You, kind sir or a gentle lady or whomever, have made this world a better place of others. We, the Society thank you.'

**no diss here. They are really amazing at automation - so cutting and edging panels; rapid work with solid wood - I purchase IKEA kitchen slabs from AS-IS on an impulse - I just can't pass up opportunity to buy a nice slab for 20 bucks people! I CAN'T PASS IT UP! IT'S JUST 20 BUCKS! sorry for yelling. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

MAKER FESTIVAL 2018!! - Handy is the NEW COOL!

[picture shows Karol Kosnik standing in a dim walk-in closet, surrounded by white hacked PAX boxes, attaching - screwing on - a middle cleat that will prevent the back of the large unit from splitting over the course of the life of the PAX box]

Chapter 1 - Handy is the NEW COOL - 'Peak Furnishings edition';

When was the last time you bought a medium, or a medium-large, or maybe a very large item - like a shed for example, or a bicycle, or maybe a fancy BBQ - and you did not have to assemble at least some portion of it, if not the entirety. You also likely had to level it to make it work optimum.

How was it? Did you like it? Did you learn something new?

I had this crazy ideas that part of the HOME-ECONOMICS in high school curriculum would have this 'HANDY portion', where you learn about basic tools, safe usage, home maintenance, car maintenance  - 'dwelling systems'.  We all will end up living in dwellings [Oh and the definition of a dwelling is changing RAPIDLY! - from home owners, condo owners, to renters, to off-gridders, to tiny-homes, to trailers... I don't diss anything anymore, smart and cost effective solution to fit ANY lifestyle are finding their home on the INTERNET! In the future we will work less and less, might as well find a situation that works best FOR YOU. I was off-grid this super super hot Canada Day long weekend - there were challenges but it was AMAZING!].

Regardless of where you will end up living, there will always be some maintenance required that you should be able to do yourself - having an understanding of some simple 'home processes and routines' will help you to save hundreds if not thousands in actual costs, but may also be good for your health! 

Knowing how to hang up a row of pictures using a laser level [arranging, grouping, levelling, use of tools, completion and review!], will come in handy when you need to upgrade to a nursery and need to secure the cabinetry to the studs in the wall OR you just have a large dog that you want to build a custom, more comfortable enclosure -I've been asked to design and build custom, functional 'dog enclosures' for the balconies. That skill set can be easily built upon and expanded - save money, do it yourself!  Hiring a professional can prove to be expensive - and there are pretty good chances that somebody, somewhere out there on the Internet already designed and built something similar! That's how I get my traffic - I provide real tangible solutions to common problems.

Ownership of tools used to be a barrier to the many DIY - that no longer is the case. Tool sharing is the new wave - Toronto Tool Library exists - you can have an affordable membership and rent from them, for example - I am Toronto centrist. Maker spaces and shops offer short term rentals - for a modest fee you can gain access to some serious professional equipment, and given your level of skill, that can really open up a door to creativity, skill building and participation in community. Live your DREAM I say!

And finall, this is where I come in. COME SEE MY SHOW! July 7th, Toronto Reference Library at 12 noon - I can only do Saturday and you have to pay $5 to get in. I usually offer my shows for free, but this was the only way I could schedule this up. We will take a IKEA's plain BILLY bookcase and turn it into my WILLIAM bookcase - Fancy French on display, but I will show you how you can do a New Shaker, or even Modern Kontemporary. I want YOU to do something similar - come in, learn and enjoy yourself, build confidence in your skills, find new sources of learning! SEE YOU AT THE SHOW!

If there is time I will talk about the amazing PAX system and how to DOUBLE its life. SEKTION - Ikea's kitchen box - is the lifeline of my business - I guarantee, after I am done, that you will love this box too!

I end with a pic of a hacked white Hemnes bookcase - when people ask what is your fave hack that you did, this one always is in the top. 






Thursday, June 21, 2018

Confessions of an IKEA Hacker - Private PAX opinions




[picture shows designer Karol Kosnik standing in a white, open PAX frame, prior to proper installation of the back. On his shoulder, loosely hanging is an IKEA yellow bag full of PAX hardware - no, not stolen, because those are only for IKEA internal use, but rather gifted by the IKEA delievery people]


Peak furnishings is here - that's the only way I can think of the PAX. With every PAX install OR resurrection, I get pleasantly surprised how efficiently I fill the space with it. And whatever the space remains gets filled nicely with ALGOT and it gets the lights too. 

The universality of it comes with a cost - the install has to be accessible to everyone, but that is NOT the case. Some people should not install and should hire a professional. AND FFS!  - ** cut out the baseboard for flush install ** - always request that. Any installer should do it - simplest way to give it that BUILT-IN look. 

I disagree with IKEA that the PAX should last 10 years. I think it can easily last 20 years - you just have to follow my instructions. Simple modifications and additions dramatically extend the life. No, the hardware is not going to fail - it will be the box! So it is important that it gets the royal treatment. If it doesn't it is guaranteed that it will end its life at a 10 year mark - BUT don't worry, you can then call me and I will resurrect it. When I leave, drawers won't stick or rub, doors will open and close properly. It is crazy stupid that an addition of $5 tube of silicone will give the PAX another 10 years - you will be happy. And you know what? While we are at it? We can make it look pretty. Or modern. Or anything else you would like. That's what I do well - I fulfill people's functional wishes. 

For all the totally custom solutions that I can design and build, there really is no reason to do any of it because of PAX. My very reasonable and pragmatic asks, 'why should I make myself life difficult, when I make it easy and modular?'

Yeezus! 

I love PAX. 

My line of custom PAX hacks is called 'Robert Kalifornia'.


Wednesday, June 20, 2018

PAX Hack Guide + Maker Festival 2018

prelude

[picture shows a cut through PAX gable, with the off-cut turned on the side to reveal the core. The core of the PAX gable is made up of high-end lamination of 1/8th skins, strips of particle core and honeycomb cardboard sandwich. Laminated together they form a rigid panel that takes loads on the vertical]
Check out my INSTA!


Chapter 1

After this project I will definitely update my ULTIMATE PAX HACK GUIDE ON THE INTERNET.


[picture shows Karol Kosnik screwing on a strip of cross-grain 1/2" thick plywood, bow-in towards the inside; a several beads of silicone were applied to the piece just prior to attaching. It is a very artsy photo. Just kidding my friends with screen readers! Hey, is there anything I can do to improve your experience? Send me a message!]

Here is the BEST, absolutely top hacking TIP for PAX Wardrobes -

** Glue in your backs ** - I use silicone for long open time and very good shock absorbing glue line. During traditional install, the back is just nailed in. Over the course of lifetime of the closet items get bumped against it - that pulls out the nails. Once the back comes out everything goes - the box loses integrity, slowly - everything begins to sag and rub. It really depends on your installer. If you glue in your back, follow with some metal sheeting screws - so very short, thin and aggressive - mine are always philips head, and a large flat washer built in - drives in very easily and tight. 

Do a 3/4 strip of ply - 5" wide - at the top, attached with  1 1/2" screws - make sure to pre-drill deeper. 

Do a thinner strip - I do 1/2 ply, also 5" wide, cross grain because it warps then, apply few beads of silicone, face the bow in [so it always presses the back against the shelves, keeping things closed] and install it a little above half-way point. Attach at edges with 1 1/2" screws AND from the inside I use the same metal sheeting screws [they present visually OK]. 

I will promise you your PAX will feel like a well sprung drum - the backs just have a really nice tone to it - the box is very solid. 

HERE comes the EASY part - all you got to do is level it and screw in into the stud or concrete anywhere along the top - becasuse you got solid 3/4" ply there - takes the 'rocket science' out of it, because I am not a rocket scientist.

Ciao!

Monday, May 14, 2018

Maker Fair - DIY, hands on workshop




[picture shows a Studio Kosnik IKEA Hack design - features upper SEKTION boxes floating on a wall combined with custom drawers for spacing, as well as a floating desk and solid wood shelves. This design is not possible to execute using the IKEA planner - if you come to the Maker Fair I will speak about how to get your designs 'out of the IKEA kitchen planner!]


Chapter 1 - Maker Fair;

I applied to show - a ticketed event! If you are curious I will be talking and showing about everything that I do - we will talk Peak Furnishings and IKEA Hacking!

Also, I had to write a sad e-mail today:


...perhaps there was a misunderstanding - I assumed that design was for you personally - and I would be happy to execute it for you. However, I don't work through designers/decorators - I have my own design practice, and I have specific goals that I want to achieve - affordability of design is a big issue for me. I only work directly with the end-client in order to reduce the cost and keep my work affordable and popular - I just run one kijiji ad....
I apologize, but I am unable to help you with this one, I hope you understand,
all best,

Karol
Studio Kosnik


You would be shocked how many people I meet - artists/designers - who sign up for representation, and then are unable to get out of the contract. Your creativity, your work forever chained to a master - yes, you are famous, and you are in demand - but you are at a fickle of an individual who can ruin you if you disagree. I thought that was annoying - I am using the Internet to fight that. I believe that given our ability to connect, one should be able to market to people who need your services DIRECTLY. Without the 'middle man'. I think it is more democratic that way AND more affordable.....



















just some thoughts.....

Monday, April 9, 2018

DELAKTIG is in! I repeat, DELAKTIG IS IN! - Industriell 2!

CHapter 1 - DELAKTIG has landed! 

With Tom Dixon bragging that this is the first - maybe only - IKEA sanctioned hack, I am excited to announce that I received official e-mail invite from IKEA to check out the collection. Exciting! - and that's a wee-bit understatement. Can't wait to get my hands on that product. 

Side by side, another collection has been launched - INDUSTRIELL. Reading the description had me a bit confused - so it is an 'industrial process that purports to produce hand-made results' - apparently people crave 'hand-made' and thus in order to bring that 'desired hand-made' they have a machine reproduce it.

Hmmm.... oh the tale that the marketing team at IKEA weaves.....

First of all - my understanding of 'hand-made' is 'hand-made', and I am having trouble with how to jump over that hurdle in a logical fashion. My guess is that the production process is likely not perfected - they can't produce flawless 'handmade' - because 'handmade' also has a specific quality - it's not random splatter, uneven brush strokes, or mindless marks on wood - and maybe it is also due to the intrinsic nature of the materials involved. But, given time and experience that process will become perfect [or with adjustable variability of 'hand-made' - so say, you will be able to dial just how much imperfections you can get - from 0 to 100% - and I mean how do you quantify that too!].

But I think the greatest lesson from the INDUSTRIELL collection is that - the robots are coming for our jobs. Automation is here!

Cheers!

Will write  more about it as I go thinking and working about my day.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

IKEA Hacker's definite guide to HACKING PAX!


[picture shows the back of a PAX wardrobe that has been glued, nailed and screwed ensuring that it will never come off - this is the BEST PAX HACK that you can do to ensure the integrity and longevity of your new closets - want to know why? IKEA backs are fairly thin - a little over 1/8" - not to mention that they are usually split into 2 pieces taped together on larger boxes. Originally, they are only nailed in - that's the trouble! Imagine that over the course of your closets lifetime - which in my opinion should be at least 20 years! - you will bump and push things against that back; you will open and close your drawers; you will slam your doors. All that motion is a 'dynamic, repetitive strain' on those backs AND it causes the nails to get loose - essentially pulling themselves out of the gables. When that happens the box loses it's rigidity - the BACKS ARE A MAJOR STRUCTURAL ELEMENT of any cabinetry! That 'flimsiness' amplifies the wear on all the components of the closet, eventually causing it to fail - your PAX ends up in the dump prematurely.

Chapter 1 - PAX Hacks and 'Peak Furnishings'.

If you have been to IKEA then like me you likely have a slight fetish for well organized and functional closets - PAX. I will not be writing about the DESIGN aspect of those closets - you know exactly what you like and how you want things to look.

The PAX system, in my opinion, is a great example of the phenomenon of 'peak furnishings' - meaning there exists a closet, which when properly designed, installed and hacked [hacked, well, because it is an IKEA product] will produce satisfactory results in 99% of the cases. AND it will last well beyond the 10 years that IKEA provides warranty for. I have been installing PAX the traditional way - free standing - or more popular, building them in, for I say 10 years, including calls to 'fix, adjust, and re-install'. And over the course of those ten years I have noticed similar challenges coming up. Two important points to remember - the PAX system is designed to be manufactured in centralized location [the efficiency reduces the cost] and then distributed; it is meant to be assembled by the end user [the actual design of the box has to be accessible to average DIY-selfer].

Why would you want to go through the process that I will outline below? I see two reasons:

A] You want to extend the life of the PAX - traditionally installed PAX [as per IKEA instructions] will last you about 10 years. Beyond that, the use of it will become cumbersome and challenging - it may start bothering you when the doors will rub against each other; the pull out drawer/tray/hanger mechanism may become annoying; shelves will sag and back may become loose OR worse come off completely; the entire box may lose its rigidity and feel 'wobbly' [that's how my customers describe the well worn out PAX box]. You may end up thinking, 'Hey! I did everything right, I followed the instructions, this is the end and I need to replace my closets.' And this point I want to stop you and say 'Wait! Before you discard that PAX, if you follow my instructions, you can breathe another 10 YEARS OF USE into that box! SAVINGS!

B] You want to build-in that box  to make it look fancy.  PAX boxes are fairly plain - they have a great selection of affordable styles of doors - both hinged and sliding - BUT that box is just SO PLAIN! As a conscious shopper, seeking good value for your hard earned dollar you want to take advantage of the affordable functionality and skip the 'custom closet route', which I assure you, is very expensive! You want to give your closets personality and flair - you want some side panels, you want some bottom trim to cover that little kick, you want a crown moulding that matches your house decor. SO, if you are going to go through all the trouble of fabricating all the custom pieces you might as well make it last. MORE - another important point to remember is the fact that when you built-in things [at least when I do] - they become PERMANENT. That is precisely the reason why I go through all hacking of the PAX that I work on - that closet is built-in and DONE. You will not be able to pull that box off the wall to fix a loose back; if that top is sagging and pulling in the doors [so they rub against each other] - there will not be an easy fix to straighten it out. The FIRST STEP in building in the PAX, is addressing all the issues/challenges that will arise during the lifespan of the closet - once those are addressed, your closet will function well YEARS beyond that 10 year mark.

Chapter 3 - Are you ready? Boring technical stuff... that you need to know.

PAX gables are super light. That is not a sign of any deficiency - opposite, that is a sign of high-end design. That vertical is a high-end sandwich - torsion box - designed to be light weight and perform as intended - the joinery on the box is strong, it will resist bending and twisting AND it will allow for great many hardware changeovers that you may desire over the lifespan of the closet. There are no benefits of using a solid core panels....unless you want you closet to be heavier.... but that never really enters into the closet equation. I've never heard anyone brag about 'how heavy their closets' are, BUT, I did hear people bragging about how functional their closets were! 

I do use non-IKEA screws in my IKEA installs all the time, but the key to remember about driving screws into IKEA panels is that they need to go into the right places. A screw driven into the portion of the panel composed of skin/honeycomb will not hold at all - that should be immediately obvious when you notice that the screw you are driving is not 'sinking' properly - the head tends to stick up above the surface OR it is simply free spinnig without 'biting' into the panel. A properly sunk screw will 'bite down hard' and pull the head just slightly below the surface - that is precisely what you want to achieve. And you know what? - PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT - I never think about it but I drive my screws with a brushless, 20V DeWalt cordless impact driver on the highest speed with a precision of 'within a 1/4 turn'. I never really thought about it until I hired someone to help me out and they just BLEW THE SCREWS through the panels because they lacked what I call 'fine touch' - driving screws when you are framing 2x4's is different when you are trying to hang up a lacquered panel. 




There are two things that I want you to remember about screws:
A] use coarse thread screws
B] always pre-drill! [ALWAYS!!! and I usually set the depth about 1/4" deeper than the actual screw - NOT SHOWN ON THE PIC, I just grabbed a random screw for illustration purposes; also, do not use those 'tapering bits', that's just BS. 

I am going to take a wild guess and say that you can probably save some cash on manufacturing of screws when you make the thread of a woodworking screw shallow - MISTAKE. When you are driving screws into low density panels, such as IKEA horizontal PAX piece, you want to make sure that the thread is as COARSE as you can get. The screw pictured above is a 'bulk screw' that I buy by weight at my local lumber yard. These are not premium screws in any way - they are actually cheaper than anything that I can buy at those BIG BOX reno stores, but they are superior. The most annoying that can happen is when you drive a screw in - regardless weather is PAX or SEKTION - and it start spinning in place without grabbbing - OH IT HAPPENS!.


Chapter 2 - The BOX

To be continued...


Monday, March 26, 2018

PAX Reboot - get 10 MORE YEARS out of the closet.

pssst!.... I think a PAX sale is coming up.
Hey! click the PAX label at the bottom to get all my PAX entries!



[picture shows IKEA's PAX wardrobe being hacked - squared and reinforced, glued in and screwed in backs - plywood cross pieces being installed]



 Chapter 1 - A GREAT CLOSET at an amazing PRICE


PAX has been around for awhile now. In fact it has been around long enough that it has gone through some major technical re-designs BUT without changing its overall appearance.

Like what you say? Well, back in the day, PAX was made the old school way, with the IKEA's custom laid-up panels [organic closets! - I used to joke around], cut up, and edged. It was easy to hack back then, because you could easily cut them up into desired dimensions, or 'split them' [I did that!] - I would take the deep PAX and cut it in half, put some custom backs on in and had a 2 sided closet.  

But that was then. Now PAX gables [the verticals] are a high end custom sandwich with cardboard core, particle core strips for strength [where required - so at 'pin locations', tops and bottoms] - you really need to understand how it is manufactured to properly 'hack it'. And I do it. 

But every now and then, I am called to a home where PAX is already installed and has been aging gracefully for 10 years or so. 10 years is that magical number when IKEA's PAX warranty expires and issues start popping up. I want to point out that wear and tear is not covered by IKEA's warranty! The client was so frustrated with her closets that she was ready to throw them out and purchase new ones! I said, 'STOP!', all they need is a little bit of TLC, some hacking, few improvements and they will be as good as new! Of course it helped that the place was going through a total reno and we were able to pull them off the wall, and break them down a bit - but they were totally re-built!

The next post was a long time coming, but I think it will be my most valuable PAX post yet. Warning, it may be long and somewhat technical but it is necessary. If you are thinking of having those PAX closets last longer than 10 years; if you are renovating or new-building and are thinking of doing away with traditional closets and just going with built-in PAX, then this is written for you. I will not be going in to the design aspect of it, simply because that could be a chapter in its own. 

Onto the NEXT POST!


Friday, February 2, 2018

Confessions of an IKEA Hacker - DELAKTIG, you had me at 'HELLO'

Prelude - this is what 'Peak Furnishings' looks like according to Karol Kosnik -



[picture shows Studio Kosnik designed IKEA Section hack - modern, geometric design that is based on the SEKTION box; Forbattra panels which complete the look, highlighted in RED; and Karlby countertop that was cut down to create 'wood voids' in the design]


Chapter 1 - You had me at HELLO

Delaktig had at me at 'hello' - it was IKEA's answer to IKEA Hacking. The story, for me, first appeared in the IKEA Catalogue - 'get involved' was a call to action - and the word 'hacking' was mentioned as an inspiration [but just once! and in italics, as if it was an 'oddity'].  It was a collaborative effort is seems, Tom Dixon's students were involved in conceptualizing 'Delaktig' - which when you use the power of the machine - aka google - translates to 'involved' from Swedish. OK.....

But there was another reason to delaktig in the utopian vision - 'peak furnishings' - a term I first read about on one of those popular websites covering 'what's fresh and hot' in design, and coined, it seems, by IKEA themselves. Certainly a collaboration between a world famous designer and IKEA - world's leader in sustainable corporate philosophy - would be something to celebrate, but what? 

Do you know what 'peak furnishings' is? Is it when you have too much stuff inside your dwelling, that you find it challenging to store it properly, let alone organize it. Is 'peak furnishings' - when you start throwing away personal things that are still useful but old, to make room for new, shinier things? I mean, that is the definition of wasteful society. 

You know, it is kind if existentialist when a company says that it has designed a product, that will outlast it - the corporate entity. This is going to be the 'heirloom piece' for IKEA. Probably the first one, with more planned. DELAKTIG, made of aluminum - the cross section of the extrusion reveals channels which greatly add to its strength AND I saw a student proposal, because it is so modular, that it become 'infinity seating', and with its commercial potential, it could, say, replace Herman Miller* brands at the airports. This modular seating, according to IKEA's intentions, would be passed along, from generation to generation; a well cherished items gifted gracefully and received with excitement. A tall order for Ikea, I say. 

I googled 'heirloom furniture' because I wanted to see what does the totality of, I think, Western human experience sees as 'heirloom' pieces. And then when looking at hundreds of images I tried to identify common elements amongst them. As you can imagine, the form was all over the place - organic shapes; rigid geometric shapes; weird shapes; some very decorative and some very austere. I am a furniture designer and a maker, I have great curiosity for the process of fabrication, and I can say with certain degree of confidence that I know how they make furniture. And, surely enough, a very strong indicator was the amount of 'hand labour' that each piece received - sometimes simplest forms require large amount of labour. People like hand-made things. Of course 'hand-made' has been spun in so many different ways to make the sale, that it is almost sickening sometimes. Our attraction to 'hand-made', in my opinion, has made it 'cheaper' in some ways, because labour in developing countries is so much less expensive, so every single manufacturer wants to move overseas. So the origin of the 'heirloom' piece is also important.** 

Another thing is that I also make heirloom pieces. I take rough beams and surface and square them. I work with precious veneers and can do marquetry. I can execute fancy dovetail joints - even though I cannot make a living doing it. I can build challenging geometric forms that require complex interior structure that is often totally NOT seen and appreciated, but required nevertheless. I do metal inlays using 'red metals' - copper, brass, aluminum. AND I even love steel. 

Of course I don't build a lot of them simply for the reason that you can get a lot more achieved via an IKEA Hack as opposed to one Kosnik heirloom - because they are of comparable costs.  

And another silly observation - I am not an elitist. It is of greatest satisfaction when I can deliver designer, superior quality solutions to average ordinary people via IKEA 'peak furnishings' products - on a budget. Because, if you think about it - there can only really be one Krenov, one Wendel Castle - I am often torn between my desire to be unique, one of a kind, original - and providing real life working solutions. Maybe I think about it too much...

I once desinged a chair, and I called it 'the Lightest Chair ever'. It dates back to my college years and my obsession with 'extremes'. I designed and built a chair, which I thought would be revolutionary. It was made of 1/4" top grade Baltic Birch plywood [so a hardwood plywood; many, many layers of AA veneers] - and it weight a mere 2lbs! AND! The SEAT WAS NOT STRUCTURAL - so what happens when you design chairs, often times, the seat plays an integral part of the structure of the chair - without it it would break, collapse, seize... AND so my chair, you could have grabbed the seat, take it off and put on a....say... a cutting board and IT WOULD STILL WORK. I had that chair dynamically tested [torture, I cringed!] to 300lbs, and it was fine. 

But it was NOT a successful chair. Do you know why? BECAUSE IT WAS TOO LIGHT! People were not comfortable using it! They feared that it would break, that it would not support their weight. My arguments - look at this, I am stress torturing it - did not work at all. As if a 'hive mind' was at work - the chair was NOT accepted. 

That experience was an eye-opener. It made me realize, that as much as INNOVATION and novelty is a key component of design, there is great inertia that resists all things new in FURNITURE. YES, maybe that chair would have been adopted by some 'design radicals'; YES, maybe that chair would have been welcomed by individuals who easily afford the financial hit of breaking/destroying a 'high value design object' and having it replaced on a whim - but that is not general rule - BECAUSE RULE NO.1 is SALES. I am always reminded of de Stijl, a design movement that I am still obsessed with today, that was so rigorous, so unwilling to bend to 'real life' that it self-extinguished. Yes!, I was greatly attracted to the arbitrary rules and regulations, completely inapplicable to real life of average citizen - BUT do I want to live [continue making and designing] OR do I want to die [stubbornly pursue my rigid and rigorous vision]? Do I make obscure pieces and die like Kafka? Or will I exert greater influence on the Furniture Design field if I pursue IKEA Hacks?





To be continued....






*NO! Nothing can replace Herman Miller at the airports, as long as architects design them!
**there is a great furniture store in Toronto called, 'the modern furniture knock-off store', and all they sell off-shored replicas of Eames, Scandinavian Modern, etc.