IKEA's "Open Source" Furniture Project

A global furniture retailer turns to aluminium to challenge traditional ideas.
14 February, 2017
IKEA is breaking new ground with the DELAKTIG project, one that celebrates innovation and ideas.
The Swedish company became a household name for its fresh approach to home furnishings, and the DELAKTIG project, named with a word that means participating and reflects engagement, focuses on creating a new "living platform" line of furniture that can be customized with components to meet the needs of different customers – or even the same customers, when their lifestyles change.
At its foundation, DELAKTIG focuses on an extruded aluminium profile that is made from 40 percent recycled materials. The aluminium was chosen because of its durability, the company said, but also because it so readily serves as a foundation for different iterations of the multipurpose furniture concept.
Image: IKEA
"The profile creates a flexible base for seating furniture and a bed frame where comfort and functions can be altered to meet the changing needs in a home. We see that limited space and technological developments change the way people use their living space."
Images: IKEA
So the company decided to create the base pieces in aluminium, which can be customized with modular add-ons in the DELAKTIG product line. What begins as a low frame with wooden slats and a cushion can be connected with arm rests, lamps, tables, privacy screens and other pieces that allow customers to do what many have always done. Where customers previously "hacked" their IKEA furniture, they will now be invited to modify it.

Most of the pieces with be available from IKEA beginning in 2018, but some of the accessories will be offered through third party sources that already sell aftermarket extras, according to Digital Trends.
Since the furniture itself is based on the "open source" philosophy, the company also decided to design it that way. IKEA, already working with designer Tom Dixon on the project, invited students from the Royal College of Art in London to collaborate on DELAKTIG. They're contributing ideas, and looking at additional options for the new aluminium furniture bases to better connect with the way people live.
"The multipurpose nature and openness of the product got us to think of openness also in the way we work with this project. It presents an opportunity to think about a modular, component-based approach that could be a significant shift for the upholstery or bed-frame industry."
Image: IKEA
So DELAKTIG isn't just about design, but also explores the use of more sustainable materials and methods of production as well. The ideas are better when the open-platform approach to innovation, and the collaborative partners who bring those ideas, are integrated into what the furniture becomes.

What's interesting about DELAKTIG – which seems perfect for this era of customer engagement and co-creation – is that the approach actually fixes a problem IKEA had a few years ago. A popular website called Ikeahackers, started by an IKEA fan in Malaysia in 2006, celebrated the notion of customizing furniture by putting it together in different ways or adding new components. Yet the company sought to shut down the site, and the DIY spirit of its fans, in a move that was widely considered a public relations mistake.
Banner image: IKEA