Sunday, January 23, 2022

Ikea Hacker says - The FUTURE of furniture and labour, and where to PURCHASE.

[picture shows a furniture and accessory filled wall from the writer's own place; blue arrows point to any piece that was either purchased from IKEA directly OR is an IKEA Hack]

Chapter 1 - Times they are a changin'...

---> There is more money to be made in instability and restricting the market;

There are many reasons for the current 'furniture situation' happening globally and in Canada. Investors are currently being advised to seek out corporations that can exhibit monopolistic tendencies in their pricing - inflation will only go up. 

*edit: This has now been confirmed with the Tiffany Macklem of BOC ~not~ raising rates. 

---> Politics, and Identity Politics are influencing the market in negative way;

I believe it was Jeff Bezos, the man with the biggest carbon footprint, that said 'Diversity decreases group cohesion', and this was driven home by Steve Jobs who crafted the ultimate concept of perceived consumer individuality with the creation of the iGadget.

When I was in gr.10, a recent immigrant to Canada, NAFTA was just about to pass and we ignorant children were tasked with arguing PROs and CONs of this Trade Deal. Class was divided into 6 equal parts, and I randomly landed in the MEXICO Pro camp. After half hour of group work, I was pushed out to the front to read that 'Mexican workers would benefit from businesses moving to Mexico seeking lower costs of production AND we would also need more truckers to haul more goods across the continent.' Personally I knew two friends whose dads lost manufacturing jobs after the jobs relocated south, to Mexico. 

So it was with great disbelief I found out that it was on behalf of a Canadian commercial furniture tycoon, with enough of influence to get close to somebody in the government trade department that this mess is a partial result of. We truly are a banana republic when oligopolies have such huge influence over how much money is left in our pockets at the end of the day, and how much of your free time you will have to commit to the 'grind and toil of work' - I am thinking telecoms especially, but such collusive behaviour is exhibited everywhere in Canada, like 'baking bread' for example. 

Who is this man that has caused this mess...? Well, what he thought was a strategic move to increase his profits, when he shifted his production out of Canada - net loss for us; I mean we have the people, the lumber, the infrastructure, the experience ---> we have everything! - and into Mexico, precisely for the reason the na├»ve me recited back in high school, turned out to be NOT SO. 'Greed is an universally shared feeling' and his customers soon found cheaper source of upholstered commercial goods in Asia. Especially China and Vietnam - those countries are famous for environmental, labour, and intellectual property 'discounts' - and in commercial it's all about the pricing. So however these things are done and arranged for, Canada obeyed and slapped a 100% tariff on upholstery from China, and a whopping 300% on upholstery imports from Vietnam. Bummer! No more cheap custom couches from CHINA!

---> Businesses first and foremost seeks stability of investment 

Both economic and political - 'ideologies' and 'tribalism' are coming back - those behaviours increase social cohesion but make it more challenging for marketing environment.  

Example: China is proving to be 'too hot' - see my tweets labeled 'Sexy time in China'; link to my twitter - for a lot of investors. IKEA shifted their important 'furniture stuff' production out of China and 'into a stable western democracy'. 
  • Losing access to Western markets...?
  • Business Sanctions /bc of 'unfriendly REGIME...?
  • Loss of productions capacity /bc of WAR...?
  • VAXX hesitancy issues + 'refusal 2 recognize'?

For example: KOMPLEMENT, which is the foundation of IKEA's closet system is now made in Austria with hardware sourced in Germany; I already tested it and it is a GREAT improvement!; read about how to understand IKEA's quality here; KOMPLEMENT is part of my plan for 'NHA Design': 

NHA is an acronym for Necessary Human Activity; NHAs differ by socio- economic and cultural classes; and rich people have absolutely different and diverging NHAs than the rest of us; improvements in NHAs yield greatest benefit ---> mental health goes up with improved organization; improved work productivity at 0 [ZERO] cost; easiest to execute, breaking down cultural barriers, redefining luxury, inconspicuous consumption, ideas just flow!

---> Vaccines and access to that technology is being weaponized.

 I can't believe I am writing this, but inequitable global access to vaccines means that new variants of concern will keep on emerging, causing our Western healthcare system, education system and economy to become unstable. It means that the output of factories that produce goods for our economy will continue to fluctuate AND our own production will become unpredictable. 

Home offices are the way of the future, and where will you source for an office that minimizes your NHA [Necessary Human Activity, aka WORK]? That's right, the place that thinks about everything when it comes to Quality of Design - IKEA! Are you better than Tom Dixon...?

---> Shortages of skilled labour. 

There is a constant loss of skillset among the trades population due to less and less cumulative overall experience, less training and apprenticeship offers.

Residential quality construction is at an all time low - with the dominant market behaviour driving forces of 'Task-Rabbit-azation of Labour'. Simplifying and stripping skills and ingenuity from the most 'design vulnerable'  - if you have never done it or have never anyone seen do it then how do you know that it is done in any other way? What are the reasons for this presentation to the masses? 'Hippys use side door'...?

We are paying a ridiculous premium for largely excluding women from trades - the CULTURE needs to CHANGE!

- oh yes, it is costing our economy a pretty penny. Until women feel safe and secure, without any fear of being sexualized or worst yet, sexually assaulted on site we will be experiencing a deficit in numbers of skilled trades available for work. 

And if you are thinking, 'Nah... the times are moving forward....', you are absolutely wrong. Top MEN responsible for the 'image of the industry' casually 'discussing sexual assault on a woman' on a podcast that makes it post-production and is listened to by 100k of other men in trades. It is scary. The story is unbelievable, hard to listen to, and the experienced tradeswoman that first brought this up - RIGHTFULLY SO - was first slapped with a 10 MILLION dollar lawsuit by the 'hurt men' and then was hounded off Instagram and other Social Media platforms. It is scary. 

Let me make this clear, this behaviour is UNNACCAPTABLE! 

---> Full blown Housing Crisis 

 'Flip-Homes' are a nightmare - lowest cost bids lead to poor labour. Examples include:
  • the exterior envelope failure after 10 years that include leaks, material failure and rot; 
  •  significant funds sunk into pre-sale reno rendered useless by failure of product within 4 months of use /w zero recourse - tiles /w heating; new owner; 2 under 2; tiles failed in both main and upstairs bathroom, how do you resolve..?

There is a wave of homes coming onto the market that are a DIRECT result of the 'sold as-is' - FLIPPED at lowest cost which increases the profits but drives quality down. We simply don't have enough trades to do the jobs in a knowledgeable and experience fashion. 

As long as the skillset and experience required for a successful, lasting install, never mind any creativity, is restricted by lack of trades, trades culture and lack of  education the price will always be premium.

Another Example: there is small builder / renovator that is HOTT right now in my area. His deal is that he closes the projects more or less on time and within budget. He's got a rotating crew that does his work and is highly skilled. Imagination tho... that's something else, and if the client doesn't know how to articulate their needs or just basically assert how they want things done... well... 'you did not have that in writing'. Oh how annoying that is. I PROMISE you that the most annoying thing in the world is renovating your place and not getting it RIGHT because the contractor did not feel it was warranted to ask you about it and then he tells you 'you did not have that in writing'. Realities. 

A mindful contractor will always pause work at the moment when a decision to install - put down a piece of wood, lay a tile, hang up a cabinet will ripple down into the project; not every piece, just once or twice. It's not just about installing, it's about bringing out the best, somebody's got to do it. 

Buy your FURNITURE on the Street!

TO be continued.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Ikea Hacker ADVICE - How to stack SEKTION boxes on a countertop?


[picture shows a beautifully designed kitchen based on the SEKTION box, featuring shallow SEKTION boxes stacked on the countertop for a layerd, nuanced, sophisticated look]

Chapter 1 - Stacking SEKTION boxes

Everyone knows that the SETKION box is incredible flexible, coming in with all sorts of sizes and super cool options that you would have to pay a meellion dollars for anywhere else [just for comparison: an IKEA 'Lazy Suzzanne' is ~200 bucks vs. $750 dollars for an equivalent option from other hardware manufacturers!].

But I have never been able to find clear directions and answers to properly stacking the shallow SEKTION box on a countertop - example above. Today, again, on Reddit, r/IKEA, someone posts this question:

They have created a design [likely set on the IKEA plastic legs, meaning this design will draw heavily on ALL the other 'look-alike Ikea kitchens' --> FIRST step in achieving a 'Custom Lewk' [tm] is taking your design OUT of the 'Ikea kitchen planner language'] and are wondering how to go about installing the shallow SEKTION boxes.

The shallow SEKTION boxes [because there are 2 depths to SEKTION boxes - DEEP and SHALLOW; both have their uses, benefits and advantages, as well as 'hackability level'] are set upon the countertop, above the deep SEKTION boxes to create a 'Hutch Look'. 

The 'Hutch Look' is essentially creating a 2 level design:
  •  Bottom one is deeper, roomier, with more storage. Typically with drawers; heavy stuff goes here; less pretty stuff goes here; ugly stuff that you want to hide goes here. 
  • Top is lighter, slender, shallower and typically the function is split between storage and display. This is where you would showcase you 'conspicuous consumption' in the form of fine and exotic china, precious collectibles and anything else that is meaningful to you - TRADITIONS are important. 
    ----> Designer Trick: to increase the perception of height in your space don't take your 'hutch design' all the way to the ceiling. If your space is SHORT - lacks height - leave a minor space between your cabinets and the ceiling as illustrated on my own hutch design. Oh, and skip the tall crown moulding opting instead for something simple, classic and well proportioned. This post talks about this particular design and gives you simple instructions on how to make your space look bigger - HERE is the write UP!

    ----> Designer Trick: To 'CROWN-mould' or 'not-to-CROWN-mould'..? My experience, my intuition, always tells me that hutches were 'work-furniture' first and thus I stay away from any 'too precious, too decorative, too pretentious' crown mouldings and ALWAYS choose the simplest, classic option that fits and matches the build. Remember, that the crown moulding is an integral part of much larger 'first impression' and should not 'steal the show'; simpler is better for hutches. 

Chapter 2 - 'Eloquent and historic' 

Below is an example of a very fine North American production hutch, ~1950's - just the bottom; will update overall shot - made in cherry. Yes, this is natural cherry when it ages as it should - on display. It is absolutely wild to me to think that my family bought this piece used, when we immigrated to Canada in 1991 for an equivalent of about '1.5 rents on a 3 bedroom unit'. Today I would not undertake this production for less than $30k - it is so beautifully and thoughtfully made; well detailed in elements that suggest great fluency in craft; the grain matches so well and clearly sourced from a single log; the quality of the wood is amazing in itself; the finish is holding up amazing; hardware if decorative and well made; load bearing! - holy cow!; it's just a really good quality piece. 

We won't be getting into the design aspect of hutches - balance, proportions, functionality, ----> this post focuses how to construct the look using SEKTION boxes.  I will give you 'my hutch' example. Here, it's an IKEA Hack too! - I highlighted all the elements that were sourced from IKEA - that's right, this is Swedish Socialism!

Here is the the list, all sourced from IKEA Etobicoke - the bestest of all location - 

  • 'A' is a pane of glass from a broken BILLY bookcase door that I picked up at AS-IS section for 10 bucks - good quality, nice thickness, excellent clarity, tempered for safety  [meaning the glass will break up into 1000's little harmless pieces instead of producing jagged shards; ALL glass in any millwork projects MUST be safety glass, so either tempered OR laminated; A MUST!!]
  • 'B' is a KARLBY birch slab that I picked up for $20 bucks because it was damaged in transit. Discount reflects the severity of damage to the piece - it was 'almost un-sale'able' - however for this particular design I was able to cut around it and salvage a really nice chunk of it. 

    ----> One of the most 'annoying things' with cabinetry and millwork in general is when the edging fails - the finish material that is applied to cover the exposed and vulnerable edges. The cheaper the build, the less thoughtful the design, the crappier quality the edging - it's the first to fail as is most exposed to typical 'bumps and bruises of kitchen life'. To avoid frustration and give it a solid, trouble free performance I applied a 1/4" thick Canadian hard maple edge. Right away I will confess that this decision was right - it's extra labour + materials... but  - it has saved this piece many times over! With 4 babies at home they all keep hitting and banging into that edge with various hard objects! The finish on the wood is BULLET-proof. For all my 'wood+water' situations I use a product called OSMO - it is a modern synthetic hardwax that cures hard for 30 days with my especially developed finishing process! - bulletproof; I even do exotic wood sculpted tub edges in this finish - damp and wet ALL the time!

  • 'C' are ENERYDAS, here ---->
This Ikea Hack Hutch design got an update recently - SO has been bugging me to fill up that empty space above the coffee maker. After pricing some nice looking hardware that came up to like 400 bucks [!!!], I opted instead to go with IKEA again, saving myself around 250 bucks.  Here!

Let's bring this picture here again. I think that this is such a beautiful and balanced kitchen design. The SEKTION boxes fit perfectly. But the most important observation that I want to make is this: it has certain 'eloquence and historicism'.

Do you want to know what the appeal of the 'Hutch look' is...? Simple - it's charming. Kitchen boxes plainly put together just to 'fill the space' lack the proper response from the viewer or user - kitchens, in my opinion, should evoke emotions whether you are aware of it or not [that's Psychology of Design!]. Oftentimes it's just a gut feeling - 'we like it; it resonates with us; it reminds us of something pleasant...'. But what...?

In my writings and designs I often talk about Psychology of Design - one of my obsessive interests is 'human behaviour in residential settings' [I created a term for it, I call it NHA - 'Necessary Human Activity' and I always try to optimize it; boring!!]. Our interiors have dramatically evolved over the last say 500 years, but our 'kitchen human behaviours' essentially stayed the same. Historically, cabinetry existed first as furniture. When a move was made to make that furniture more permanent - built-ins, kitchens - 'the dimensions of that move stayed the same', meaning the physical structure was bulked up for heavier loads, but objects created still matched the 'limits of human body': we can only reach so far and high; it's only comfortable to perform certain tasks [Necessary Human Activity] in certain 'body positions and angles'. And let me tell you that the HUTCH is perfect for it! - it's an 'organic, natural resolution' to our human needs. 

Now take a look at 'functional design history' and you will see countless examples of hutches ranging from the most utilitarian, basic work-kitchen hutches to exquisite, precious builds found in manors, made for 'displaying history and family's good taste.' You see hutches everywhere, every household has one, because they work, and they work well. The HUTCH is the workhorse of any family assembly! We all have seen them; we all have experienced them throughout our lives and likely have 'unconscious friendly hutch bias'. TRUE! 

All we are trying to do is to replicate, re-experience, re-live all those 'good times'! I think. Look, my own design, the one you see above, the IKEA Hack, I 'psychologically traced' [function, balance, proportions, display etc.] to a kitchen hutch that my Polish grandmother had in her ancient rental kitchen in New York city, during her immigrant years. The house she lived in - 30 years! - was built in the early 20th century featured all solid wood kitchen which had 'normal then, but exquisite by today's standard' joinery. So the quality was there right from the start, I could tell that as a curious child.  Bring into that 'The Charm Factor' - wonderful smells of cooking and baking during Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter [smell is POWERFUL emotional trigger!]; tiny spice drawers; tall glass doors displaying various glassware and china. 

Those two pieces I highlighted in my own hutch I inherited from my grandma Helena ---> that ceramic blue fish is an exquisite Japanese serving bowl for fish soup from 1890; that ceramic kettle is British made from late 1800's as well. I treasure these piece immensely because I have wonderful childhood memories associated with them... My hutch is my family's history in some way... you know.

~~And that my friends is the secret to designing successful 'Hutch Designs' - call onto all your childhood memories... That's all!~~

Chapter 3 - Ok then, how do I stack the SEKTION boxes to make them look like a 'Hutch Design'...?

I am gonna say that IKEA will be an asshole** and for warranty purposes will claim that they need to be hung up - a classic SHALLOW SEKTION install - it's the best; the flexibility of that hanging system is incredible and needs a creative individual to truly open up the potential of it. 

Bummer is that for this to be done well, it needs to be done very very accurately. How accurately..? This accurately, LOOK ---->

I don't know what exact thickness of that piece of cardboard is, however, intuitively to me it feels like the right size gap that will allow for SETTLING of your millwork under load. Not judging, but people will ALWAYS overload their millwork - ALWAYS. I understand, that's why it is important to prioritize when you are organizing and decluttering and unload anything that you don't need. That's right, FREE yourself of your earthly possession that are weighing you down - that's one of the themes for 2022.

Exciting NEWS ---> I stumbled upon a professional who is MY equivalent but when it comes to organizing 'little stuff'! [I organize BIG stuff - kitchens, closets... etc. vs. LITTLE things, so everything else, like your clothes, electronics, etc. and things you don't even knew about. But let her take care of that. Her mind just works differently than other people! I follow her advice [after 10 years, I achieved Inbox ZERO, for example]. Her name is Melissa, and she is a fellow volunteer Scouter with Scouts Canada. When I met her she was responsible for managing [volunteer!!] the youngest category of kids in the organization - you know how adults talk that managing young children is taxing? try being efficient at it!

Anyhow, BACK to SHALLOW SEKTION installs - I use that paper for a particular reason - it's another IKEA hack, lol - it's the top flap of the SEKTION hardware box and it's found in every SEKTION box. If I was to guess how thick it is, I would say about 1.2mm...? I know what 2mm gaps on cabinetry look like [sharpest look!] and this is skinnier, but I also know that it's more than 1mm... But exactly...? who cares, why measure..? Using spacers such as these on site is an improvement in accuracy that is easily available! The other secret about that little cardboard tab is that is ~very dense~ - meaning it will not crush or collapse and keep that gap consistent as a spacer. Advantage you!


**oh, it's ok... Don't cry for IKEA... don't shed those single tears.  I feel at ease calling them assholes - WHY? - the next calendar year after my show and launch of my WILLIAM bookcase line, IKEA renamed their BILLY bookcases, you guessed... WILLIAM. 

~~'When you hack an IKEA BILLY bookcase and you elevate it in the process, it becomes a WILLIAM bookcase' - Karol Kosnik, 
Studio Kosnik.~~

See, Designing, as creative process is very wholesome and embracing. A good designers applies the entirety of their 'skills repertoire' to the project and considers everything, including 'naming strategies' and marketing. 

YEA, I was livid, but fuck it, one day we will resolve it, I promise you, and will let you know how it went. In the meantime I encourage you to experience what Intellectual Property Theft is FIRSTHAND and use your official IKEA app to search out my WILLIAM bookcase. Anyhow, I feel confident in my intellectual property ownership and clearly staked out my claim publicly, right here on this blog - IKEA take note.  If IKEA truly is as 'DEMOCRATIC DESIGN' as they claim, then they should acknowledge my contribution. Another issue is that for trademarks to be valid and upheld they must be used - that's the test - and so far it's just you and me looking up how IKEA is stealing from me. That's all. Firm I stand.

~~ 'I design for the unreasonable.' - Karol Kosnik,
Studio Kosnik ~~

ps. Here is another TRICK!

Friday, January 7, 2022

Swedish Socialism - inflation... Inflation!..... INFLATION


[picture shows dramatic overnight price increases on IKEA's website for the FINNALA couch]

Chapter 1 - PRICES going UP, UP.... UP!

I know that I always talk about Swedish Socialism being able to protect you from the dramatic inflationary activity happening across the market, but it seems that IKEA is not immune to it. 

If you always wanted FINNALA but you don't have it sitting in your living room right now, then you will have to pay the higher price now. That's a pretty steep jump - for me it would me. 

I'm on Reddit r/IKEA and r/IkeaHacks and have noticed a slew of posts from individual users of overnight price increases - everything from couches, to shelving, to 'chackas, dudas and flim-flam'. 

[picture shows a discussion on subReddit IKEA about significant price increases to upholstered goods]

Chaper 2 - Ikea's iconic food is missing too!

I am in a habit of re-creating the Swedish Menu at home for my babies - various meatballs, veggies, latkas, etc. You really can't beat those products for convenience, nutritional value, taste and Swedishness.... hahahaha! But ALAS... the other day I stepped in an BOOM ------>

[picture shows a screenshot showing a note at IKEA store informing shoppers of shortage in Ikea's iconic meatballs]

This was a bit concerning to me. And I will be frank... I am expecting even higher prices and more instability. 

If you are thinking of doing an Ikea-centred reno - WHY? Savings!!! - then I would say start going at it, otherwise it might be a decade before we return to 'normalcy'. Just my advice.