Thursday, September 27, 2018
Confessions of an IKEA Hacker - The FUTURE of furniture PART 2
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.
*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;