The sofa that began with the packaging
In many homes, the sofa is the most central and loved furniture. It's also one of the home's biggest investments – both in terms of size and price. But what happens if we adapt the sofa to fit into smaller packaging so that we can reduce the cost and environmental impact from transports, logistics and warehousing? This is exactly what we did with KUNGSHAMN sofa – and without compromising on comfort and quality. Sometimes it's about thinking outside the box (no pun intended) to make change happen.
1200 mm by 760 mm and 1140 mm by 800 mm. No, it's not the size of a new rug – nor are these the dimensions of an unusually large painting. For Mirja Svensson, who works with packaging at IKEA, these are the magic numbers that can do wonders for the price of a sofa.
"It's the optimal pallet dimensions to be able to load, transport and store as effectively as possible", explains Mirja. "By packing a sofa smarter and smaller, we can we reduce the number of trucks on the roads, which has a positive effect on both costs and the environment", explains Mirja.
The dimensions set the boundaries
It was these dimensions that Mirja presented for the team tasked with developing a new modular sofa with a low price. The team included designer Mikael Axelsson, and he liked the challenge at hand.
"For me as designer, it's quite easy to make a nice, high-end sofa where I don't have to take a lot of things in account. To make a quality, low-priced sofa is therefore more challenging – and more enjoyable."
Mikael and his colleagues began sketching KUNGSHAMN, a sofa that could be divided into smaller units, each of which could fit to Mirja's dimensions.
"Another advantage with several smaller packages", explains Michael, "is that they're lighter to take home than one large package."
Mirja joined the design team to a number of workshops and meetings where together they could fine-tune and optimise various details. One of the solutions was to adapt the frame's height to suit the packaging and then get the right seating height by making the sofa's legs slightly higher than usual.
A snug journey
In the work with KUNGSHAMN, an important goal was to never compromise on comfort and quality. Detailed solutions that contribute to smarter packaging is nothing the sofa owner should notice – except in terms of the price, Mirja adds.
"When a piece of furniture is finished, there's not a lot I can affect. That's why it was fantastic that I could contribute already in the design process behind KUNGSHAMN."
Mirja has worked with packaging since 2004 and describes her work as a fun, yet advanced puzzle involving a constant struggle with those millimetres. It's based on maintaining a close cooperation with other specialists and having a comprehensive overview of the product's journey, all the way from the supplier to the customer's home.
"If the furniture is not properly protected throughout the journey, then all the work we've done developing and manufacturing a fine piece of furniture will have been in vain. So, when it comes to quality, the packaging is actually more important than you might think."