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!