DEMOCRATIC DESIGN

Design for everyone

We don’t just make things,
we make things better.

At IKEA, our philosophy is to design things that improve life at home for everyone. That means making products that are more than just beautiful, but innovative in how they work, able to withstand daily use, sustainably produced, and affordable for everyone. That's how products that make our homes better can make your lives better, too.

Family in an open dining room, Design for everyone

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.
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.

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.

Some of our smallest solutions have not only changed the way we think about developing IKEA furniture, but also the way you assemble it.

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

Female in blue t-shirt working on IKEA factory floor in Vietnam with male in a striped t-shirt.

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.

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

3 EXAMPLES OF INNOVATIVE DESIGN

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.

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.

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.

RIGGAD LED work lamp with wireless charging

At IKEA we’re always striving to make things better by making better things. RIGGAD work lamp not only gives you focused light, it also wirelessly charges your phone through a charger puck hidden in the base. Less stress for you and fewer messy cables for your home! Outstanding design? The iF Design Awards thought so, awarding RIGGAD an iF Label in the category lighting.

See the wireless charging collection here

DEMOCRATIC DESIGN: INNOVATIVE DESIGN | LIFE AT HOME | CHOOSING MATERIALS | WHAT IS 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 hat, tickling a smiling toddler in a red and white polkadot shirt.
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.

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 was 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.

How the world wakes up

Findings from the IKEA Life At Home Report:

 

46 % 

of Londoners age 18-29 are stressed about waking up too late

56 minutes

is the average time from wake up to take off for people in Shanghai

37%

of New Yorkers pick out clothes the night before

Helping people like Jo find what they need

Our research shows that people use only 20% of the clothes in their wardrobe, often because they can’t find everything they need. Insights like these inspired us to develop the KOMPLEMENT range of wardrobe organizers, making Jo’s life easier.

Close up of a young female with blonde hair and pink shirt.
Close up of neatly folded clothes and shoes in KOMPLEMENT wardrobe organizers

“We get dressed with a lot more ease and less panic now... we love it!”
- Jo

3 LIFE AT HOME FOCUS AREAS

Adult man in apron, and two kids standing 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 saves both space and money.

Storage boxes in black and white incorporated underneath a staircase.

Organizing

By making storage functional, fun and affordable, we make it easier to enjoy a tidy home.

DEMOCRATIC DESIGN: INNOVATIVE DESIGN | LIFE AT HOME | CHOOSING MATERIALS | WHAT’S NEXT?

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.

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.

Watch the story of bamboo-made RÅGRUND here.

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.

MOCKELBY Wooden table

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.

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.

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. As of September 1st 2015, all cotton used in IKEA products comes from more sustainable sources.

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.

DEMOCRATIC DESIGN: INNOVATIVE DESIGN | LIFE AT HOME | CHOOSING MATERIALS | WHAT’S NEXT?

What is 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.

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).

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.

Close up of person sitting in a red armchair with a built in interactive screen.

“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.

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.

is_ikea/democratic_design/201544_tidd04a_04_PH128524.jpg" alt="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 THE IKEA GROUP

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.

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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