New ideas for the fluid home
The designer Gustav Carlberg has a lot of moving experience. His first home was a cellar room with a stove where he lived on noodles and crispbread. Later on, Gustav moved to a shared home where he slept in the living room. This was followed by a number of other temporary homes in the Stockholm area. These experiences proved valuable when he was given the task to develop a new sofa for IKEA; a sofa for a home in constant change – the fluid home.
Over the years, the designer Gustav Carlberg has lived in some ten-odd homes which have all had their own settings and unique traits. ”I remember an apartment where I had my bed in the living room and didn't get much privacy. So I hung up posters around the bed to create a ‘room in the room’. I laid there and played video games in my free time”, Gustav says laughing.
Life lived on the sofa
Having moved so often, Gustav is quite typical of our time, since the home for many people is something ever-changing. It's not always as slimmed down as Gustav's first living spaces, but we still move often, and shift between living alone or with our friends or partners. IKEA product developer Ria Falk describes this lifestyle trend as ”the fluid home”. It's a home that changes both in terms of location, conditions and interior. ”Also, the living area is often limited and we do different things in the same room”, says Ria. ”We work, relax and hang out in the living room, but we also want to create our own nook if for example several people are sleeping in the same room. That's why furniture needs to be functional and very clever”.
When Ria and her colleagues saw this need, they decided to develop a number of new furniture items. The involvement of Gustav in the project was a stroke of luck. During his years in sublet apartments, he learned a lot about what works – and doesn't – in a home that constantly changes. From these insights and experiences, EKEBOL sofa was developed: a steel construction with loose cushions and a number of storage possibilities. ”It's a sofa to live on. A place where you can work, relax and sleep when needed. It's easy to move and isn't meant to get stuck in one spot in front of the TV”.
A workshop led to ideas
To be sure that EKEBOL and the other furniture items developed in the same project actually met the needs of the fluid home, the team invited a group of 20-somethings to a workshop at our design department in Älmhult, Sweden. For an entire day, they tested, moved around and explored all the details of the newly developed furniture items. Among other things, there was the rolling VEBERÖD room divider which Gustav's colleague Johanna Jelinek designed. It led to several different ideas from the group: one suggested that the room divider could store all of the kitchen's cookware on one side and that the other side could be covered in climbing plants like a green wall.
The workshop clearly showed that many 20-somethings want to be able to put a very personal touch to their home – no matter how temporary their living situations might be. It's one of a number important insights which Ria, Gustav and their colleagues now take into account for new projects. Ria would like to involve customer groups more in future product development. ”It was a great joy to find solutions together this way”, Ria concludes. ”Through cooperating, I'm confident that we'll continue to develop smarter and better products that can make a difference for many people - not just for the younger generations”.