Wednesday, March 27, 2019

The WILLIAM debacle continues, but who CARES?

Chapter 1 - Exactly? Who really cares that IKEA stole that concept from me? 

I was furious when I got the news. I did feel a blatant stab in my chest, 'IKEA Canada renames BILLY bookcase WILLIAM'. But why? What's up? 

WILLIAM is the final step in the Peak Furnishings saga for the simple BILLY bookcase - WILLIAM is the final design destination, its final step in its design evolution. IKEA, the most influential furniture design company in the world [by sales volume; mostly to the poor and the savvy*], by adopting the name of my BILLY bookcase hack line, acknowledges that. 

I just have really hard time accepting the fact that this was a totally random decision that came from IKEA's design department. You know what I do before I create any Intellectual Property? I simply google the sh*t out of the topic - I scan ALL the results. You can find out very, very quickly if your idea exists - you can find out very quickly if anyone produced a YouTube video about the subject - you can hit all the BLOGGER sites with the content of interest. TODAY access to information is not an IMPEDIMENT TO BEING ETHICAL about the products or ideas you give life to. 

Instead I will make an argument that IKEA felt threatened that I was actually able to recognize the full potential of that simple, affordable box and the masses of consumers may be attracted to the possibilities that I was presenting them with. Oh yes - IT'S CHEAPER TOO!

Chapter 2 - WILLIAM is the final step of the BILLY journey. 

You know, sometimes things are not said out in the open, out loud. Sometimes it's simply a consistent trend, that if you are skilled at predicting the future, you can see the final chapter of. The final, ultimate chapter of any DESIGN STORY is the end user - you and me - but more importantly 'me', these days at least. The more granular your success, the greater it is. WILLIAM bookcase is the iBookcase - a simple bookcases for the masses that still have books or other things that they need to display. It's simplicity - in design, material choices, name [until now....] - was its greatest strength. I think that at the moment you have a professional recognize its commercial value and that design product finds a welcoming audience - BOOM! It's made - WILLIAM it is. 

Yes! I will be pompous about it!- I DO take my work very seriously and am deeply PASSIONATE about it. AND you know what, if you work hard, it's perfectly acceptable to enjoy your success! Let me tell you that it is every furniture designer's dream - WHILE STILL IN SCHOOL! - that they design an 'iconic piece' that will enter the canons of design forever..... It's usually chairs as they allow for 'most dramatic personalization vs. intimate user contact' - so you can easily vary or adjust the looks vs. comfort. When you think of corporate lounge interiors do you not think of the Barcelona Chair? And what is the epitome of an American lounge chair if not the Eames Chaise Lounge? And when you think of a 'proper dining chair', say a set of 6 or 8, do you not think about the Wishbone chair? I know I am generalizing a bit, but I am sure once I mentioned a name the image immediately popped in your head. 

But I gave up on that dream few years back. Why did I give up? Well, there is simply almost an overabundance of products, and chairs especially. Many, many, designers and makers, professional and amateur alike take up that challenge and end up spending countless hours crafting their original, unique and often commercially irreproducible objects -  sometimes with incredible results. Honestly, I sometimes end up overwhelmed looking at images of products. The effort required to punch thru, the effort to get noticed is enormous and requires great resources AND often is a simple fickle of fate or destiny.... So - what do I do? - Design chairs or play the lottery?

BUT IMAGINE that instead, very naturally, you stumble onto a very popular and accessible design [BILLY!] and over the course of some times you take it and realize the full potential of that design. MORE - countless of others can do the same - with you as a template for their design success - that in my opinion is the GREATEST SUCCESS - Accessibility, Affordability and Community! 

Historically, the WILLIAM bookcase concept is mine, I am extending the invitation to you too IKEA. Happy Birthday BILLY! 

Oh! And the most salient point of all *** if we had UBI society then IKEA Hacking would not exist ***

[ADDED LATER]  I want to make an observation here. This past Design Week, in January 2019,  here in Toronto - a pretty cool, pretty informative platform for a lot of interesting design - I went to see a talk titled 'Uncovering Canadian Design'. A panel of rather young, but clearly established brands, took questions and spoke about their own work. Few sad realization happened, for me at least - FIRSTLY and most IMPORTANTLY - you have to go to New York to make it big, Toronto is too small. That, and the power of good rendering. Jamie Wolfond, a young Canadian designer, popular on Instagram - so very much a visual footprint - raised an issue of originality - being creative in an original fashion AND how important it is for him. My guess was that most people in the audience were the 'creative types' - so usually freelancers, contract-2-contract work, occasionally slow then crazy. You know, there is a lot of people who just want to make a living out of their creativity and Intellectual Property they produce. And the fact is that they don't have - or don't want to - spend their limited creative bandwidth fighting to enforce their rights. We live in a society that should respect the creative effort by default - or at least that is my hope. 


*IKEA must be dreaming when it thinks of itself as a 'Designer Brand', it never was, and never will be - it shows their lack of understanding of the concept of Luxury Furniture, and the psychology of it.