Friday, January 26, 2018

Confessions of an IKEA Hacker - the DELAKTIG Dillema + Ingvar's Passing

Chapter 1 - Ingvar's Passing

Yea I was going to start posting about the DELAKTIG project - but something else happened this weeked. Ingavr Kamprad died - the Great Founder. He is credited with pioneering the concept of 'flat packing' - and thus revolutionizing Furniture Design - I fictionalized that moment here, on this blog, it's at the end of the entry. Wikipiedia - to whom I donate annually, just to perpetuate that liberal, open minded bias - lists him as a 'Swedish Business Magnate' - died peacefully - and no doubt in my mind 'extremely satisfied with what he has accomplished' in his life. 

I said that I will share controversial opinions about design, starting this Design Week that happened [my second Ikea Hacker Convention* - the Practical, Artsy + MoneyMaker]  - it is all about the sales. If anyone tries to convince you that they are doing it for the art OR design, then they are lying - well, rare art/design geniuses exist, but yea, very very rare. AND you know what Ingvar did? He sold. And he sold tons and tons - IKEA today is a leading home furnishing retailer in the world. Its line-up of boxes that real people need for living is unmatched - SEKTION, PAX, Billy and BESTA** - the essential core is manufactured most efficiently - I take advantage of his philosophy every single day! 

IKEA is also is an employment leader - with unmatched loyalty - in today's world with everyone being 'replaceable' - either by outsourcing or automation or AI'ed - IKEA provides stable, predictable, meaningful employment to thousands around the world - people feel connected. Anecdotal evidence will tell you that it is a company with a GIANT heart, where employees feel valued, and money is seen just for what it is - 'money'. Ingvar once gave away all profits from a single day of sales to his employees - all 40 000. There is leading research that suggests that happy, fulfilled people live longer lives - so I think just that metric will tell you something.

I read somewhere - BBC - that he was a billionaire - but I also heard reports that his personal wealth was in the vicinity of $115 million AND he drove an old Volvo 240! Noooo! So a man who makes or influences  'billion dollar decisions', has $114 sitting in a bank or so, DRIVES an old VOLVO!? You know what that is a sign of?  That is a sign of a man who is content with whom he is - AND I think it is a great feat to be such - content with oneself. It takes great wisdom and understanding of human existence to be content with oneself - there was no need to impress others. I have to say that I find his philosophy very inspiring - I too try for optimum solutions. 

If IKEA is any indication of his principles - then it is well positioned to be unstoppable. If a corporation is to successfully exist it must not be a predator that consumes itself - many corporations today are actively shortening their existence [meaning, huge losses and liabilities in the future - oh it's coming, no doubt, the question is just who will be the first one to recognize that? huh? New York state is already said to divest $5bn from fossil fuels and then sue them for environmental damage]. It was most curious when I read - part of my doing research into the DELAKTIG - that head of Sustainability at IKEA said that we've reached 'peak home furnishings' - IKEA's strong growth, in my opinion is an indication of just that phenomenon. If you think about it - the marketing of exclusivity is a game mostly played by the very rich, who have the disposable means to do it. I think, everyone in their life has a moment when they say 'fuck it' and you just stop caring and you buy the product that is most functional for you - the super awesome IKEA price is just a sweet, sweet bonus that IKEA long time recognized to be a great advantage and now pursues it full time. At this year's show I said that 'we are making too many things; and that there are too many designers competing for too little products to design.' Maybe a better option is to start 'designing our own lives, instead of leaving it in the hands of others to design?'. Worth thinking about it. 

Oh and don't sweat it - IKEA's boxes are well made, everyone makes their boxes the same way, and if you want to add some custom pieces to those boxes or you want to make it look like a million buck$ then you need to hire me. Oh, and you HAVE to LIKE IKEA - please don't start off by saying that you hate IKEA, but you like their low price and you want to make it look like a million buck$. So what is it? - YOU LIKE or NO?

*during my first IKEA Hackers Convention I gave away a luxe hack - from my KingK + QueenT collection - it was a table top from AS-IS, clad in very fancy Italian laminate from ABET, and new from IKEA, those black table legs, 'Fancy French' ones. When I asked the woman who won, 'Hey! But how are you going to take it home?' she was surprised, but immediately replied 'I will take off the legs and fit it in my car.' There! That is what I called an 'Ingvar moment'! People don't think about it anymore. 

** I think specifically, the existence of these furniture systems is a sign of 'peak furnishings' - these are optimum solutions - they work for 99% situations - IKEA's ability to satisfy that niche shows its leadership. I love SEKTION!