Even though, in general, we tend to be against the whole mass production of things, we are fully aware that it is this mass production which has led to a wider range of people being able to access generally good design at an affordable price. So long as the design to manufacture chain is sound, that is ok – so responsible materials, sustainable designs, clean and safe working environments and we are ok with that. But everything can be redesigned and refined. Even mass produced pieces such as the classics from furniture giant IKEA.
Perhaps ‘classics’ is a bit of an unusual term to use, but like it or not, there are ranges within the mazes of IKEA that we all know and love, like the Lack table, or the Expedit shelving system, so it is understandable that there was a general uproar (to the tune of 200,000 Facebook and Twitter fans complaining) when the Swedish brand recently announced that they would be discontinuing the Expedit range.
‘No!’ people cried. ‘How can you ditch a system that we all know and love, that is interchangeable and can be configured in lots of ways?’
Well. IKEA haven’t. And lots of people missed this important second half of the announcement. The Expedit range has been rebranded as ‘Kallax’, but most importantly, with a bit of a redesign too. The edges will be rounder for safety, the surface will be scratch resistant, but most importantly, the system will use less wood in the construction.
Now, on the new, scratch resistant surface, this does not seem to be a radical change, but when you consider that IKEA accounts for 17.8 million cubic metres of timber each year (that is a full 1% of the global timber supply), creating just a little bit of a lightweighted change over thousands and thousands of bookcases will actually create a large change.
So this redesign should not be met with an uproar but a cheer. If the piece functions the same and there are no structural or weight carrying issues, we should be applauding IKEA for being forward thinking with materials. This is also an economic decision (less material = less product cost to create), but our resources will benefit too. Lightweighting is the way to go.
But the ironic thing is that if IKEA had not said anything, we probably would not have even noticed…
(image via IKEA)