DEMOCRATIC DESIGN

Design for everyone

At IKEA, we believe that design is for everyone. We strive to create products that are beautiful, functional, sustainable, high quality and affordable. Like the LISABO coffee table in ash veneer, winner of the international Red Dot award for design.beige beckground
We’re proud that LISABO series has been awarded the prestigious, international Red Dot Award for design. The tables slanted edges give a handcrafted look, and matt lacquer on the ash veneer means the furniture will keep its natural wood feel. “The idea behind LISABO was to create a series with the distinct feeling of wood, a floating expression and durable, easy to assemble construction” explain designers Knut Hagberg and Marianne Hagberg.
We feel good design combines form, function, quality, sustainability at a low price. We call it “Democratic Design” because we believe good home furnishing is for everyone.
DEMOCRATIC DESIGN: LIFE AT HOME | INNOVATIVE DESIGN | WHAT’S NEXT?
LIFE AT HOME
Where it all starts
“At home” isn’t just a place. It’s a feeling. Like being in the most comfortable space in the universe. So for us, understanding people’s life at home is the most natural place to start. Every year, we visit homes all around the world to find out what people dream about. We then pair their needs with the abilities of our suppliers to create new solutions that, hopefully, will make everyday life a little better.
Close up of a boy with a cap, tickling a smiling toddler in a red and white polkadot shirt.
A father is playing around with his kid, flying around in a laundry basket.
The playful home
How do families play today? And how have perceptions of play evolved over time? The Play Report 2015 surveyed 30,000 parents and kids worldwide and discovered that no matter how old we are, our ‘inner child’ craves the comfort and freedom of play:
• 47% of children want more playtime with their parents
• 71% of parents think the home should be a place for fun and play
• 90% of parents believe play is essential to wellbeing and happiness
Taking stress out of take off
Through a recent survey of 8,000 people in eight cities around the globe we learned that nearly 25% find the period between waking up and taking off the most stressful period of the day. Only about 5%, however, find late nights to be stressful. We also learned that picking out clothes in the morning is a huge annoyance for many, no matter where they live. Using these insights, we came up with KNAPPER, a simple, affordable solution for choosing an outfit the night before and enjoying a calmer start to the day.
Visit our interactive Life At Home Report #1 to explore how the world wakes up.See a summary of our Life At Home Report #2 for people’s thoughts on food, eating and wellbeing.
KNAPPER, standing mirror with clothes hanging behind it, and a beige ballerina dress hanging against a cracked cement wall.
KNAPPER is a standing mirror with hooks and a bar for hanging clothes behind it, and one example of how we turn insights into solutions.
How the world wakes up
Findings from the
IKEA Life At Home Report:
46 % of...
% of Londoners age 18-29 are stressed about waking up too late
56 minutes is...
minutes is the average time from wake up to take off for people in Shanghai
37 % of...
% of New Yorkers pick out clothes the night before
DEMOCRATIC DESIGN: LIFE AT HOME | INNOVATIVE DESIGN | WHAT’S NEXT?
INNOVATIVE DESIGN
Design on the factory floor
We began learning about the production of furniture 60 years ago. We had just begun to design our own furniture and needed to learn how best to match the possibilities of the supplier with the needs of the customer. Bringing the two closer together was how we would keep prices low.
Since then we’ve continued to apply these methods and to work with suppliers right on the factory floor. What we today call democratic design influences and benefits every part of IKEA - from our development facilities in Älmhult, to our suppliers around the globe, including local artisans in places like India and South East Asia. Over the years we’ve learnt that by constantly asking ourselves, “Is there a better way?”, bright ideas can come from just about anywhere, from anyone.
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Innovative news. The ODGER chair is made to stand out. It pairs great design with sustainable innovation – and it doesn’t hide its origin. Instead the material’s mix of renewable wood and recycled plastics is allowed to make its characteristic mark on the smooth surface. ODGER was anything but easy to develop, but may be the most straightforward chair we’ve ever made – with the assembly just a couple of clicks away.
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Working with social enterprise
Partnering with social entrepreneurs is one way IKEA is supporting real social change in parts of India, Thailand, Indonesia and even Sweden.
Read more about how we’re putting people first in People & Communities
Working with suppliers
Our product developers and designers work with a diverse team of technicians, manufacturers and specialists – often right on the factory floor like here in Vietnam. And through IKEA Industry, over 20,000 co-workers produce wood-based furniture and boards at 36 sites in 11 countries.

Female in blue t-shirt working on IKEA factory floor in Vietnam with male in a striped t-shirt.
Smart distribution. Smarter design.
IKEA has a history of smart, low-cost distribution dating all the way back to the 1940s when products were picked up by local milk lorry. Today, more than 50% of our products are delivered directly from suppliers to our stores. We also design products to reduce packaging and the amount of air that gets shipped. Customers benefit from lower prices, and in some cases lower weight and easier assembly. The planet benefits from lower CO2 emissions.
Read more about our energy saving efforts in Energy & Resources
IKEA store employee moving products stacked on a paper pallet
3 examples of innovative design
EXAMPLES OF INNOVATIVE
DESIGN
 Close up of pink POPPTORP armchair with black seat cushion, and headphones laying on top.
In the 1970s, a visit to a bucket supplier inspired the popular SKOPA armchair. That same originality has since led to POPPTORP, a sturdier successor with practical storage under a removable seat.
Close up of orange LACK table, standing with different coloured LACK tables stacked on top of each other in the background.
In 1979, we wanted to make a table that would be at home in any setting. A door supplier using a thick, easy to adapt board-on-frame construction helped us create LACK, a lightweight table for under 10 Euros.
Close-up of NIPPRIG plant pots made from water hyacinths, stacked on top pf each other.
In 2014 IKEA designers collaborated with artisans in South East Asia to create the NIPPRIG collection, combining Scandinavian design and know-how in low-cost distribution, with traditional craftsmanship.
DEMOCRATIC DESIGN: LIFE AT HOME | INNOVATIVE DESIGN | WHAT’S NEXT?
WHAT’S NEXT?
Inspiring small changes
We’re much too curious to wait around for trends to arrive. We prefer to ask, “What can we do to make things better, so that everyday life will be better?” Often it’s about little things; those small solutions in the home that make the every day seamless, more functional and more fun.
Today, we’ve moved beyond the conventional way of looking at home furnishing. Instead of seeing rooms, we look at activities. What are people doing in the home? How do they do it, and when? We then inspire them to make small changes that will make doing those things easier, smarter and more enjoyable - all over the home.
The “fluid home” focuses on creating a good flow in the home based on people’s activities. Integrating wireless charging in furniture is one of those small things that can make a big difference.
 Female lounging on sofa while placing her cell phone onto a wireless charging station (left). Close up of integratied wirelss charching station on an IKEA floor lamp (right).
“Urban play - the experiential home” is one of many themes we’re exploring at the IKEA Home Lab, including privacy solutions for shared living spaces.
Close up of person sitting in a red armchair with a built in interactive screen.
IKEA Home Lab - Where focus is on the future
Working with science is generally not what people think we do at IKEA. Yet as we head into the future, science plays a bigger role than ever in meeting the needs of our customers. At our IKEA Home Lab, a dedicated group of scientists and future-focused minds are experimenting with things that won’t hit our stores for years. Here, ideas and materials are explored, and prototypes are built. Some will be tested in real living situations. Others will never see the inside of a flat pack. It’s about curiosity, discovery and trial and error - the nature of science.
A smarter, more flexible tomorrow
With technology and economic development bringing people closer together than ever before, the world is growing smaller and tighter by the minute. Living habits and standards are changing at a faster pace. At the IKEA Home Lab, we focus on creating smart and flexible ways to meet future needs at home, brought about by rising numbers of people, devices, cables and more.
Close up of a hand placing a cell phone onto a wireless charging station next to a pair of eye glasses.
Turning furniture into wireless charging spots makes charging easy and free from cables - a human-centred solution to a technology-centred need.
Female in grey sweater placing a white storage unit into a wall made out of many storage units.
For urban dwellers in shared living situations we’re experimenting with innovative solutions such as moveable walls that take flexibility to a higher level.
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Two IKEA store co-workers looking up information on the computer
WORKING AT IKEA
We believe in people
Find out what makes IKEA an inspiring place to work. Hear directly from some of our co-workers and learn about our different roles. Learn more about Working at IKEA
A photo portrait of a young Indian girl in a classroom
PEOPLE & PLANET
For a sustainable future
Discover what sustainability means to us and what we are doing to take care of people and the planet. Explore People & Planet