Because we all need a hand sometimes
We don't always like to admit it, but at some time in life we all could use a little more support around the home. It might be a more supportive chair when we're pregnant, a longer shoehorn after running a marathon, or just more everyday assistance due to the natural process of ageing.
That's where the new OMTÄNKSAM range comes in. Designed with input from ergonomists, physiotherapists and researchers in the care industry, the range makes activities from eating and preparing food, to moving and relaxing around the home safer, easier and more comfortable. Little surprise that the Swedish word OMTÄNKSAM translated to English simply means "caring".
Going back to the start
Britt Monti is the creative leader for the OMTÄNKSAM range and over the last two years she's been the main force that has pushed the project forward, a task that has meant basically starting from scratch.
"If you look into the old IKEA catalogues from the 60's you'll see we used to speak about comfort and support for older people or people with back problems for example," Britt explains. "But since the 80's we just didn't have this customer in mind when developing a range."
Looking to rectify this, Britt embarked on a fact-finding mission.
"I started my research looking at how other industries had been working, such as the car and telecommunications industry," she says. "Then I spoke with researchers, physiotherapists and doctors as well as people working in the caretaking field and companies that were designing for older people."
All of this research boiled down to getting a better picture on how best to support the body in doing basic household activities, while building a network of ergonomists and physiotherapists that could feedback on usability and safety of the new products.
Style and ergonomic design can work together
If you shut your eyes and hear the word "ergonomic design" it's easy to imagine clunky shoes, strange chairs or hospital wards. A connotation that Britt and the design team wanted to take a big step away from.
"We wanted the range to be something that you would be proud to have in your home from a style perspective, the only difference is that in function it's more user friendly and supportive."
From an initial list of around 40 planned products, the team whittled the range down to only include products they felt could make the most positive difference. For Britt one of the standouts has been a new take on tableware.
"I've been interviewing people living in elderly homes and one thing that stood out was that a lot of people stopped using their porcelain when they ate because they're afraid it would break, or that they might feel clumsy using it," Britt says. "Instead, many people would buy plastic or even kids tableware. And that just broke my heart really."
By using a tough glass with a porcelain feel, the OMTÄNKSAM tableware benefits from a more supportive design without losing its look, Britt explains.
"There's a lot that goes into them, they're non-slip, hard to spill and hard to break if you drop them on the floor. I think they really stand out as something that's super practical and new for customers to IKEA."
The core idea of the range is to help people keep their independence and do the things they've always been able to do, whether it's putting on shoes, enjoying a drink or getting out of their chair.