Monday, January 26, 2015

IKEA SEKTION launch - what's really in the 'kitchen'? + SCANDAL [part 1]

[this post was started the day of the launch - Trade Day at the IDS...]

Part 1

Today IKEA launched SEKTION - the kitchen system that replaces AKURUM - at the 2015 Toronto Interior Design Show. IKEA had another exhibitor Semihandmade removed from the show first, and then they launched.* I felt that it was a bit heavy handed on their part - they have a history of being heavy handed. If you are curious, or you have been living under a rock, Semihandmade picks up where IKEA kinda' leaves-off** - they make aftermarket doors for IKEA boxes - kitchens and wardrobes and others. By IKEA's account, they have sold 7.7 million kitchens and by Semihandmade's account they have sold over 700 door sets. Personally I don't think IKEA had anything to be concerned about - in terms of volume of sales - I rather think that the professional audience that day, might first see what a lot of people already see - beautiful modern wood grain doors [or custom paint shaker] - that fit IKEA kitchen boxes - custom look on a budget - and that market is only going to grow. 

Hey! I'm offering that service for the Canadian market now! Get custom made doors for your IKEA SEKTION kitchen!

As much as their 'popular marketing' is warm and inviting - giving us that cozy feel of Scandinavian Modernism - they are brutally efficient. IKEA has the lowest market cost option - that's a statement pulled off their European produced marketing video, delivered by a woman with blond hair, very blue eyes, and a frigid gaze that pierces the soul of any competitor. 

IKEA is Blum's [the hardware manufacturer] largest customer - IKEA says 'jump!' and Blum says 'how high?'.  Their designers worked together on developing efficient and functional - optimal solutions - to the kitchen dilemma. IKEA, it seems was able to lower the production costs of hardware AND made it more functional - they did several things - keep on reading till the end.   

IKEA has a history of being able to reduce prices over the years - mainly by finding efficiencies within their system. 


LAST MINUTED UPDATE - while writing

IKEA wins BEST BOOTH AWARD at the Interior Design Show!
[why wouldn't they? they had the largest booth in a premier position [$$$]; they had the tallest booth in the premier position [$$$]; and they did have a spectacular interior design [$$$]]


They invest heavily in automation - BILLY bookcase production is fully automated, no human hands touch that bookcase other than yours [see video in this post]. The first step in production of Klippan sofas is shrouded in secrecy, no on has access - other than employees - there are no images and no video footage exists of that 'production first step'. I speculate that it has to do with the automation of the first step - there is some cleverly designed machine  that in a single 'insert' eliminates about 4 hours of skilled manual labour - there are 800 sofas manufactured bye SWEDE WOOD, in Poland, for the world's consumption every day. IKEA - along with a complete switch to LED lighting - has invested in a windfarm, in the province of Alberta, Canada, which will allow them to become energy independent. So while the rest of us will be at the mercy of the market swings - shortages, conflicts, politics - for our energy consumption, IKEA will be able to operate in total independence. And that is their goal for 2020 - total energy independence. They are also investing in their labour force, now offering a pension to any employee that has been with the company for at least 5 years - I've been going to IKEA Etobicoke for the last 15 years, and I keep seeing the same faces. It is stunning to me, the amount of foresight that IKEA has an as a corporate entity. 

Part 2

So the public got a first hand view and try of SEKTION. 

That old system AKURUM has been my 'go-to' box for a large portion of my business - I was curious how my business is going to be affected - and it is, I can already see it. I went into IDS 2015 IKEA booth and opened everything, inspected all the hardware and place of origin [AKURUM boxes were manufactured in the US; some doors were made Sweden; some parts were made in China; some parts were made in Russia!]

I also knew that there be lots of other kitchen manufacturers - large and small. By seeing all of them, by inspecting all of them - their kitchens all in one place - I would be able to better position the IKEA kitchen in the market - is SEKTION a good product? What are its strength and what are its weaknesses? 

SEKTION has definitely that European feel - at the show, each SEKTION box was full of hardware - BLUM - that optimized the interiors. Traditional shelving was banished to the upper boxes - anything above about 6 feet. Drawers, drawers, drawers everywhere! IKEA has done away with their aluminum RATIONEL slide-out boxes - nice, but still the interior walls were slanted reducing the drawer 'floor area' and thus capacity - and replaced it*** with a white, powder coated steel, rectangular slide out box - more storage, likely [I haven't gotten the specs yet, a good indication are the gauge of steel and colour of the runners on the slides] increased weight capacity. 

Here - traditional hinged doors with internal drawers

And - 

There are plastic dividers that further divide this box. 

[To be continued]

*IKEA is rewriting design history - there never was Semihandmade at the show IDS 2015. It did not exist. SEKTION is and always will be. 

** Because IKEA veneer and veneer-imitation doors are production doors there is no way to ensure that consecutive doors have matching grain. Matching grain on sequential doors and panels is usually found on high-end kitchens. 

*** Revision, the BLUM boxes still have the lower walls slanted - not as much though as before.