Backward design à la IKEA
Designing furniture backwards is perhaps not the most common or comfortable way of doing things, but completely normal at IKEA. When Eva Lilja Lövenhielm designed EKERÖ armchair, she started with the price and the packaging and let these two factors steer the final result, a unique looking and comfortable armchair that probably would cost a whole lot more somewhere else.
Many armchairs come as they are and don’t need to be assembled. But, at IKEA we know that if we manage to make furniture that take up as little space as possible during transportation, we save both money and the environment. It means fewer lorries on the roads, and in turn a lower price.
Idea development on the factory floor
It was not that Eva found that the backward way of doing things hampered her creativity. On the contrary. Thinking of the packaging, instead of drawing beautiful armchairs in her computer was a fun challenge.
That’s why she, and the entire product team, travelled to the factory in Romania to begin their design journey. By working together with the supplier, they found new ways to use materials more intelligently.
For example, they noticed that less polyurethane foam was needed for the seat when they used supporting fabric instead. That’s good for the price, and the environment. And it gives an equally good, perhaps even better, seating comfort.
On site in Romania the team also decided that the chair would have two side pieces that meet in the back. This allows EKERÖ to be packed in a smart way when transported, but also gives the chair a distinct design that makes it stand out.
Fits most wallets and homes
But, regardless of how strange our design process might seem, it is still in the life at home where the products should make a difference. So, while Eva and the team were working on how to construct the armchair, a lot of thought was being put into colour, form and function.
“EKERÖ is intended to be a strong, solitary piece of furniture. A neat armchair that fits just about anywhere. Even though it is a bit square, it can soften the style in your home. When you see all the colours together, it feels like walking into a sweet shop,” says Eva.
The back cushion is reversible – something that gives two sides to wear – and it can be moved around to fit almost any way of sitting. At the end of the day, it’s perhaps not important how an armchair is designed, just as long as it suits many people's styles – without putting too much strain on their finances. EKERÖ is made just for that!