While it might seem like you’re DIY-ing it when you assemble your IKEA bookshelf, there’s actually very little experimentation involved in the process. That’s why the website IKEAhackers has become so overwhelmingly popular: it provides a platform for consumers to truly customise the standard products. Yet, as Peter Maxwell writes in this essay, a recent face-off between the company and the website presented IKEA with a choice: to sue or to swallow the semi-subversive movement.
When Jules Yap established her website IKEAhackers eight years ago, it was out of affection for the brand and its wares, but also the belief that its products could be adjusted to fit us all somewhat better. The site is a portal for people to share instructions for original pieces of furniture created from components taken from various IKEA products. These tend towards the functionally pragmatic, contortions of mass-manufactured furniture that fit the specific demands of domestic spaces: storage beds jerry-rigged out of chests of drawers, or bookcases recast as work desks. The official names of certain products reappear – Frosta, Faktum, Expedit, Billy – celebrated not only for their intended morphology or use value but the plasticity of their parts.