Lessons in bamboo—from China to you
Every day, we learn about life at home from IKEA customers, but they're not the only ones who teach us. When we set out to make new furniture using bamboo, we discovered some things ourselves and learned a lot from a man in China who we started to call the "bamboo professor".
In the beginning, we didn't even plan to use bamboo to make RÅGRUND bathroom furniture; our original idea was a bed. After some thinking and testing, however, we realized bamboo was better suited for bathrooms. Why? Mainly because bamboo is a grass that mostly grows in the tropics—a climate similar to a steamy, hot bathroom. Plus, it's important to us that bamboo is renewable and sustainable. Our team followed the new direction all the way from the IKEA headquarters in the forests of Sweden to a factory in the bamboo groves of China. Visiting the factory to collaborate and design directly on the factory floor helps us maximize material use, save resources and learn a lot.
Meeting the "professor"
Product developer Damon Hird was one of the team members who travelled to the bamboo factory in China to work on RÅGRUND furniture and the towel rack chair. He says they met a man they started to call "the bamboo professor" because he taught them so much about working with bamboo. "He literally knew everything about this material, and he could make mathematical equations on how to utilize the material, as well as maximize use and minimize waste from the top of his head," Damon says. "It was really incredible," he adds. "It gave us so many ideas on how to best use the material and insights into what was possible and what wasn’t.”
Designing for life at home
At the factory, the team focused on combining their knowledge about life at home—like needing more spots for storage, maximizing small spaces and wanting to sit comfortably in the bathroom—with their new lessons from the “bamboo professor.” After 5 days, they headed back to Sweden with a design almost identical to the final RÅGRUND towel rack chair. Not only is the chair a chair, it also has a shelf underneath and a high back where you can hang towels or clothes. Its space-saving storage, double function, and durable bamboo match the rest of the RÅGRUND family's shelving units, mirror and toilet roll stand. Even though RÅGRUND towel rack chair wasn't designed to use while you study, their story proves you never know when and where you'll learn something new!