As well as getting to check out the first Ikea store and to have a tour of the wonderful museum and archive we also got the chance to meet with one of the designers and pick their brain on the design process.
Ikea employs around 80 Freelance designers and has 12 in house designers, a little mad when you consider that they have 286 Stores and over 9000 designed objects.
We got to meet with Marcus Arvonen who is actually alumni of the course I'm studying at HDK, he picked out two pieces and talked us through the process he went through from concept to final product.
The first piece was the Ikea PS Maskros the brief he was given Spring and Sweden, inspired by the dandilion clocks that are for him synonymous with the beginnings of spring in Sweden he created the idea of the Maskros. He wanted to change the way people view them seeing as most people consider them weeds and would dig them up.
Originally it was due to be a limited run like most of the PS collection and originally came up against criticism because in order for it to be econmically packed and shipped it needed to fit into a small package that would mean the buyer would have to assemble 160 pieces themselves. Each of the individual stems also has to comply with regulations that stipulated they have to be able to support 10kilos otherwise they would be considered hazardous, so getting the delicate fragile nature of the dandilion clock into the design but at the same time making sure it was very strong was a challenge he has to work through with the materials experts on site.Production went ahead regardless of some of the doubts about assembly and much to everyones suprise it became one of their best sellers, and has since been made in a smaller size.
The second piece he spoke about was a series of plastic bins that can be bought in many conbinations and stacked and assembled with ease. This project of course was much less about aesthetics and more about materials, he spoke in great depth about the considerations they have to make about plastic production, plastic is relatively cheap to produce but in order to keep these costs economical it is very important to work with manufacturers close to the stores otherwise the low value is lost during the highly expensive shipping process. Something that I had not thought about until that point.
Marcus also spoke about the many considerations he has to make when designing, it is not simply a case of designing something with a good concept and visual impact or highly functional, the designers at ikea all have to consider the entire life of the product. The design, manufacture, packaging, it's life on the shelf, in the home and of course the all important question of whether or not it can be recycled afterwards.
A really great insight into Ikea!