DEMOCRATIC DESIGN

Design for everyone

Pallet of LAMPAN table lamps with four stages of LAMPAN in pieces
We believe quality and design should be affordable to many. The LAMPAN table lamp was designed using the five elements of “democratic design” - form, function, quality, sustainability and a low price. So instead of thinking outside the box, we got rid of it.
DEMOCRATIC DESIGN: INNOVATIVE DESIGN | CHOOSING MATERIALS | PRODUCT STORIES
INNOVATIVE DESIGN
Democratic design, ever-evolving
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.
Click here to learn more on Democratic Design and IKEA Product Stories >
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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.
Read more about how we’re putting people first in People and 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.
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 and 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: INNOVATIVE DESIGN | CHOOSING MATERIALS | PRODUCT STORIES
CHOOSING MATERIALS
A more sustainable start
At IKEA, we’re working hard to ensure that all our home furnishings will be made from renewable, recyclable or recycled materials by the end of 2015. Yes it’s a matter of responsibility. But we also believe that making the best use of resources helps us keep prices low and quality high. Here are some of the more sustainable materials we use today.
Wooden table
Wood
By 2017, 50% of our wood will be FSC® (Forestry Stewardship Council) certified or from recycled sources. The FSC standard protects ecosystems and people’s livelihoods, and our long-term goal is 100%. Today, all the wood we use must meet our IWAY Forestry Standard, which bans wood from sources involved in forest-related conflicts or illegally harvested. It also states that harvesting should not threaten High Conservation Value forests.
Bamboo
Bamboo has more than a thousand species, grows mostly in the tropics and can be up to 30 metres tall. Strong and lightweight, bamboo can be used to create a hardwood effect. It grows faster than wood and does not need farming.
Wood plastic composite
Wood plastic composite consists of polypropylene and wood fibres from sawmill waste. Using wood fibre makes plastic products stronger and less expensive. And it helps put waste to good use.
Table with bamboo table top, white legs, and two black dining chairs made from wood plastic composite.Close up of hand-woven basket with red handles
Water hyacinth
A fast-growing plant, water hyacinth is a durable and highly renewable material we use to make hand-woven products like baskets. And because it is clogging up waterways in South East Asia, using it this way benefits both people and biodiversity.
More sustainable cotton
Together with the Better Cotton Initiative and WWF, we enable more than 100,000 farmers in India and Pakistan to produce cotton using less chemicals and water. From September 2015, all cotton in IKEA products will come from more sustainable sources.
Recycled PET plastic
PET plastic can be melted down and used to make other products such as quilts and pillows. An old plastic bottle is transformed into pellets, then into a usable textile. This gives plastic another life and reduces waste. It also creates a material that’s much more comfortable than the name might suggest.
Folded, white duvet cover with grey seams. Black pillow and a rolled up black cover ontop.Close up of curtain rod with a dark grey linen curtain.
Flax and linen
Linen is produced from extracted fibres of flax plants that grow in large fields, often in cooler climates where artificial irrigation and pesticides are rarely used. The fibres of fast-growing flax plants make linen strong and durable, yet soft and breathable, too.
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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
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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