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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 | CHILD SAFETY | 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.
A man standing by the stove in a kitchen, frying vegetables. A young girl standing next to him is helping out with the preparations. The kitchen worktop is packed with oil, eggs and bowls.
A boy lying on the floor playing with a baby who’s chewing on a toy. A woman sits just behind the baby.
With what’s most important at heart
Children are the most important people in the world. That’s why we always have their perspective at heart, in all things we do. We want it to be easy to create a home that’s practical and playful, safe and imaginative – allowing for lots of together time (and for playing astronaut on one’s own).
Over the years we’ve learned a lot about all good that comes out of playing, for kids and grown-ups alike. Play stimulates creativity and makes us less stressed, and it’s an inherent, necessary part of growing up. Since we also know that home is the most important playground, we’ve made it our mission to make every kid’s personal space as playful as themselves. And it doesn’t matter if it’s their own room or a corner of the lounge.
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.
frame.An image of parts of the IKEA SLÄKT range, flexible furniture for kids aged 8 and up. Here we see the bed with three storage modules underneath.
The new SLÄKT range
With a license to chill
When it comes to their own space, what children dream of and what their parents feel they need aren’t necessarily the same. That’s one of the reasons why our work with the new SLÄKT range, furniture designed for kids aged 8 and up, started out with a global survey into what children from 8 to 12 years old really want from their space. The answer proved to be nearly the same all over the world; kids want a place to relax and retreat, with potential for hanging out with friends while still being close to their parents. The chill out-part isn’t surprising, really. Even though it might not always seem like it when they are preoccupied with one screen or the other, the pre-teens are hectic years – on the inside as well as on the outside.
See the SLÄKT range
Furniture for change
With these findings behind us we continued the development process – aiming for a result that the kids would love (and one that would appeal to the parents too of course). The outcome, a range that includes a bed and furniture for storing, chilling and hanging out, can be adapted to different needs and so is great to interact with.
“Kids can change what they want to do in their room in a heartbeat, so we designed SLÄKT to be super modular and adaptable, as well as easy to move around if a bunch of friends come over”.

Nina Hughes, Children’s IKEA.
38% consider the neighbourhood in which they live a part of their home.
A group of people gathered outside around a table having a cup of coffee.
The IKEA Life at Home Report 2016
What makes a home?
The IKEA Life at Home report explores the life at home of people all over the world. The aim of the report is to increase awareness of and spark conversation about what better everyday living actually means. This time we dig into what really makes a home for people. The report shows that among many factors, people primarily define their homes as where they have their most important relationships. People who are satisfied with their relationships at home are also happier with their living situation and feel better overall.
Learn more about the Life at Home Report 2016Read the IKEA Life at Home Report 2016
Findings from the
IKEA Life At Home Report
43% think the things that enable them to do what they love are the most important.
A green heart symbol.
Almost 1 in 4 think it’s more important to have good Wi-Fi than to have social spaces in order to nurture their relationships at home.
A Wi-Fi symbol.
As many as 40% say their homes have a particular smell.
A perfume bottle symbol.
3 LIFE AT HOME  FOCUS AREAS
LIFE AT HOME
FOCUS AREAS
Adult man in apron, and two kids stanidng on top of stools to reach the countertop in a kitchen.
Living with children
We understand that raising kids can sometimes feel like a juggling act. At IKEA, we love giving families a boost in any small way we can.
 Small apartment with focus on a small green table, setting, and two green chairs facing each other.
Small space
By 2030, 7 out of 10 will live in cities. As living space shrinks we’re raising our focus on smart, fun solutions that save both space and money.
Storage boxes in black and white incorporated underneath a staircase.
Organising
Rising living standards means more things. By making storage functional, fun and affordable, we make it easier to enjoy a tidy home.
DEMOCRATIC DESIGN: LIFE AT HOME | CHILD SAFETY | 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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Many of us would do ourselves a big favour if we were better at getting up from our office chairs. With SKARSTA manual, height-adjustable desk it’s easy, and affordable, to alternate between sitting and standing.
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We’re always trying to challenge the way traditional IKEA furniture is made. Sometimes, when we least expect it, we end up with a reinvention that redefines the space in which it lives.
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Sometimes, bright design starts on a cocktail napkin. LAMPAN is the perfect example of reducing something to its minimal components in order to find the perfect form.
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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.
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, a part of the IKEA Group that develops and manages production capacities, 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.
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 | CHILD SAFETY | 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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THE IKEA CONCEPT
Doing it a different way
The IKEA Concept stems from a long history of always asking ourselves a simple question, and is central to everything we do. Find out more about our concept and expansion
Stack of IKEA boxes on a delivery bike being ridden by a man in glasses
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