IKEA’s Democratic Design Days (DDD) have been a low-key launch of various new designs and collaborations for a few years now, with this year bringing the scope of a new vision of its own five dimensions of design.
“We want the form to contribute to making everyday life a little bit more joyful and beautiful. Function means that the product meets all the needs of everyday life. Quality means that our products last over time. And the low price makes the product accessible to the many people. Lastly, sustainability is about much more than just the choice of material or how something is manufactured. We want to take long-term responsibility all the way from how we source the material, to the people who are producing it, and all the way on to the customer.”
IKEA’s history of good-yet-affordable design has in some cases in the past erred on ‘flimsy but cheap enough to replace often’ – like ‘fast fashion’ but for the home – yet the company is making a long term shift towards better quality, longer lasting products.
It suggests that its product developers and designers have to find the right balance of all the five elements now when the design process begins.
“It is a challenge that keeps us innovative,” said a spokesperson. “It is also a challenge that we have to take on as a team.
“Very early on in the design phase, our product developers and designers work with a diverse team of technicians, manufacturers and specialists – often right on the factory floor. This special partnership with our suppliers helps keep our prices low and find the latest techniques to create products the IKEA way.”
The IKEA way might still be a nightmarish experience on a Bank Holiday weekend, tempered by meatballs and that weird red fizzy pop, but the products coming out of this year’s DDD look more likely to live long lives in the Swedish firm’s catalogue and homes around the world.
One of the most specific product collaborations to air from the 2019 DDD has been with UNYQ, a pioneering leader in the field of design, photogrammetry and 3D printing for prosthetics, that has launched three new products for the global gaming community.
There are an estimated 2.2 billion gamers around the world playing for a total of 14 billion hours per week. Gamers spend a large portion of their time online, sitting for hours on end, which can lead to massive physical strain on the body.
Drawing on expertise and input from Area Academy, an educational e-sport company, UNYQ and IKEA identified an opportunity to create products which are not only functional, customised and design driven, but also offer ergonomic benefits.
The gaming-focused line will initially include three personalised products, all manufactured using Carbon’s 3D printing technology:
– A biometric wrist support which maintains the correct height of the gamers’ wrist to the keyboard, reducing strain on their tendons
– Soft pliable, vented keycaps which make the keyboard feel like a physical extension of a gamers’ fingers
– A portable mouse “bungee” which clamps the users’ mouse cable in place, preventing tangling and enabling full freedom of movement
It’s a strange old collaboration that clearly has a customer base within the huge industry of gaming peripherals, although we can imagine a few CAD jockeys eyeing up that wrist support the next time they head out for a new Billy Bookshelf.