Sunday, September 3, 2017

IKEA 2018 Catalogue* - Review - *this is crazy!

first impression

*I star it because I have the Canadian edition. But the personal stories in the catalogue are international - you really do feel like a citizen of the world reading it. SO accessible - I think every household in Toronto gets one in the mail, and I am certain that if you did not get one than you can call up IKEA and request one. In this digital age, print format still rules - I was surprised how many people 'phoned-in their RSVP' for my show/talk last year, even though instructions were clear to reply by e-mail - technology can be a barrier to some. 

Back to the catalogue, though! It's wonderfully square, reading it feels like browsing on a wide screen - a nice comforting feeling, a lot of us are used to that 'widescreen format'. Paper good as usual, glossy, good quality print. 

I will not talk about the tastefully arranged interiors featuring exclusively IKEA products - encompassing all aspects of living. The offering - products and ideas - is so wide, that it boggles the mind how one company can manage to do it so well. Their size makes them incredibly influential - with great power comes great responsibility - and IKEA shows how to do it well. 

*edit: but I will say that a lot of the floors in that catalogue are crazy expensive - I don't know if you can get more expensive than large format herringbone, for example - having done a lot of floors in my life. 

If IKEA is paying any attention to what is happening in the world of design it will not be able to avoid the fact that it's products are hacked. I defined it as a conscious creative act of taking an IKEA product and altering it in a way - can be creative or utilitarian intent. You cannot imagine my glee when I read that there are 2 [TWO!!!] chapters dedicated to IKEA hacking! One - on an individual level - how can one become a hacker themselves! Yeezus! Straight from IKEA's mouth - that's a legal statement I would argue! For sure that chapter was very well reviewed by IKEA legal. 

Another chapter - IKEA + Tom Dixon. Shut up! Tom Dixon?!! Tom Dixon is probably the most well known and respected name in Design - a giant monolith with no natural predators - Wikipedia lists him as a self taught designer - I carefully studied his furniture designs - I am furniture designer myself [I list that as my obsession] - so I would like to say that even though I am nowhere near the greatness of Tom Dixon, I can say that we share similar experience of designing furniture - if not passion for furniture. AND they use the word 'hacking' - this is a first too! Official! Printed copy 4 every1 2 see! That's a legal statement - right there! I guess all the big lawyers at IKEA had a meeting - I wonder if their team is international? like they have someone from the US / N. America?, surely there exists a European Union division - so they had a meeting, and they figured it out that this 'IKEA hacking' isn't going away, it's here to stay and likely get larger, so might as well take a stance on it. And what do they do? What is IKEA's opening salvo in the IKEA Hacking world? - TOM DIXON. That's HUGE! 

So, imagine that in the world IKEA Hackers - usually, average ordinary people - Community* - mind you on the crafty and creative side, but never really big, famous names - maybe with the exception of that Balenciaga, $2145 knock-off of IKEA Frakta bag ! [get out of here with your knock off Balenciaga! and c'mon! $2145 for a bag like that?!! that's undemocratic!! - I yell from the stage]. And suddenly you get the biggest name in design thrown in! Is that even compatible? What will be the result? There is a process - I have to read more in-depth to cast my verdict though. Curiosity though! - the final 'hacked' product will be available both at IKEA and Tom Dixon - I am wondering about the price point, go check out Tom Dixon on-line

*First edit: This collaboration, with the participation of Tom Dixon's students from the design classes that he teaches at renowned and prestigious design schools - they floated some interesting ideas - but it appears that anyone will be able to collaborate on the design with IKEA. I think this is the world's first such 'relationship' - the scale - 1 to 1 - an individual with a giant. I mean, relationships like these existed before - design butique firms that specialize in small batch productions, productions that larger companies just would not bother with, there is no money in it. And here we are facing the case of 'the smallest batch production of 1'. It is as if we are back at the arts and crafts era, when jobs were artisanal - people were making in a fashion that a broom-maker could exchange work with a shoe-maker or a baker - very intimate personal relationships. Maybe I am thinking too much about it. 


Anyways, it's late already and I got to wake-up at a decent hour tomorrow. Rest assured I will add to this later.

Ciao!
*I defined IKEA Hacking by its three core pillars - Accessibility, Affordability, Community, 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

IKEA Doors - 'Think-Do' Review

Casual Design - bookcase? tree? This is a more complicated design - better looking in my opinion - allows for greater creativity - still DIY friendly. 




Chapter 1 - IKEA Doors - Ethical and Philosophical Review. 

You know how margarine was invented? It was the war and Napoleon needed to feed the masses. Cows typically not doing well during wars, so there was a shortage of milk and thus shortage of butter. Butter is essential to cooking - yeezus! I love cooking with butter - it carries the flavour of everything so well. Pastries are not the same without it. Essentially there is no good life without butter, and Napoleon knew it. So he put out a call to French scientists - 'come up with a cheaper, mass producible, more accessible alternative to butter, so that everyone can a good life!'. And the French invented margarine. 

IKEA Sektion doors are like margarine - accessible and affordable to everyone. Anyone can have a good looking kitchen. With proper detailing you can replicate many cool looks - but you already know it - you've seen it done, I do it. 

Why am I writing about doors? Well, someone wrote in asking about making a set of doors. I am like, 'sure'. This person shares with me her reasoning for asking me - one - she read my review of the Veddinge doors and - two - she wasn't too keen on the Kungsbacka finish - the finish apparently shows every greasy print [that's black doors for you! - I haven't reviewed the Kungsbacka doors - maybe it's time?].

And then I checked my stats and realized that particular review of the Veddinge doors is a major draw and gets some discussion on forums - 'it influences decisions'. I am not a fan of Veddinge because of very specific reasons. 

But you know what? I don't want to be 'that negative guy'. No! I am going on the record and say that Veddinge is a very awesome door - READ the REVIEW.  I think that if you are OK with the colour of it and can put up with the issue that I outlined [AND enjoy the benefits of Veddinge that I outlined as well!], that you should totally go for it. It is so affordable and easy to replace - and really, how often do you damage your kitchen doors? And when it does happen -  You are not sweating it - because it is easy to find identical replacement - just go to IKEA! Occasionally I purchase an extra sheet of laminate for doors and give it to the client,  just so I have easy sourcing in case I ever need to replace something for them. 

And don't be jealous of other custom rich looking kitchens - Insta is filled with them - 'tag your bestie' kind of thing - yea....mmm..hmmm. This incredible opulence, rich finishes - typically at that price point there is a designer, so it is well executed - but I sometimes ask, 'is it necessary?' Imagine how they must 'dance around the cabinetry' - or their servants - not to damage it. Because I will tell you that it is next to impossible to do a replacement job well. And knowing the low risk of ownership of IKEA's Sektion you can now be more cavalier with cooking - even with butter!, which by the way is very greasy and will leave greasy splotches behind. 

Yep, butter leaves greasy marks behind. 

But that is what kitchens are - dynamic greasy environments. To take away from that would be like taking away butter from cooking - what's gonna carry the flavour? 

Do you like cooking? 
I like cooking. And I personally don't want to be worrying about doors and drawers while I am doing it. It's reasonable - makes most sense - brings out the most pleasure out of cooking - brings the most pleasure out of life!

I believe that it is very important to find things that work for you - serve you best. I have written about this before - IKEA hacking is the way to go with affordable cabinetry. If you are are a DIY person - meaning you will plan, design and create your own kitchen, then don't let me sway you away from purchasing Veddinge doors! 

When someone hires me to do their kitchen - my first instinct is always to suggest IKEA doors - not my own! I want your dollar to carry you successfully as far as it can. I want that dollar that you've worked hard for to give you maximum results. 

Alright, so we can't quite achieve our goals with IKEA doors? What are the alternatives? What is the next step? I still want to use the IKEA box and hardware - let's make use of what is readily available to us first. 

Veddinge is also a great modern clean look - nice designs can be achieved. Why wouldn't you want to get that look? My only difference is the availability of colour - so if you want something other than white, like a grey or whatever - you can have it. It's a square nice profile, I design killer fillers for it - looks like a million buck$ - panels I usually build out to 1 1/2" or 1 1/4" and come with some features that make them last a long time - definitely longer than standard panels. 

Ok, so if I was to make en ethical pitch for why I would consider my doors - that would be variety combined with durability. For lowers, I only do laminates - they last and they are beautiful. Most reasonable choice for lowers - they hold up best - they will look the same year after year. Bulletproof. I can stand behind a product like that. 


Watch the story on Kungsbacka - this is a perfect marriage. Any kitchen doors will show grease - the question is how effortless is the clean-up. If it is easy to clean, then it don't matter that things will get dirty - CLEAN up is EASY. 

IDEAL DOORS DON'T EXIST. 

To be continued....





Sunday, July 16, 2017

Looking forward to TODO 2018 - there is a book!

This one is going to be a short one, but I had to get it out!

Yeezus! Someone had to do it. So there is another Ikea Hackers book. I got an e-mail, straight from Jules telling me about this opportunity! Her - yes, she is also a hacker - and 25 other hackers [I think] put together their favourites. This means two things - IKEA gave it a blessing, they are not going to fight her publications - when I get to read it I will analyze it - I mean, this is a legal statement by IKEA - this is what is allowed. And I can now publish my own large format book. I even know what I am going to write about it. Hey! Better yet, I will get to test some of those ideas next year during the Design Week in January. I am going to let my flair for furniture design shine.

I think I got the name for it too. Because it will have some art component, and I also wan to be faux-Swedish, and I want to be be hip.... I am gonna call it - U [can] 2.  For the [can], there will be that iconic picture of the Warhol's Campbells soup can. Yep, if I am gonna be an artist, I wanna do it full blown.

No. Not really. I find choosing names - meaningful, appropriate titles - for shows is kind of hard. You wanna be edgy and stand out, but real at the same time. Yeezus... It is hard. You don't want to be cheesy, but you do want to have fun. Of course you want for it 2 B memorable, right? So many things to consider...

Chapter 2 - What IKEA taught me about global politics - the future of labour.

In some ways a company like IKEA, which has an incredible sway - being the world's leading home furnishings and accessories retailer - it makes tons of important decisions and influences business decisions around the globe - is a good indicator of the future of labour and manufacturing. If there is one thing that IKEA always considers is the geopolitics of doing business. The Malm dresser - a very cute thing - I am working on right was made in Germany - a hotbed of democracy, strong capitalist ethic and led by a powerful and influential women [for whom I have great respect - you got to google Merkel's giant eye-roll she gave to Putin, at the most recent summit]. On the other hand, Turkey or Russia will not likely see any business from IKEA.

And of course - automation. That's gonna be a game changer in the next 10 years.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Designer - Karol Kosnik - but a Maker and Hacker too.



[picture shows an outline of a built it taped out on a wall - part of  Karol Kosnik's  design process]


Chapter 1 - Thoughts on furniture design. 

YES! YES! YES! My Maker Faire listing is up! - here is the link!

This is it  - you either make it or you don't - is there a demand for your vision of the world or not?

I do think that every product designer that graduates from a design school - and by 'product' I mean specifically things that people will interact with directly or in-directly - hopes that they have a unique vision - they have 'the' vision for something that will change the world.  And nothing could be further from the truth than furniture designers. 

We all need furniture. We also know well what a good chair feels like, what comfortable sofa is like, what a handsome credenza functions like - in some ways it's the universality of the human experience - our quest to surround ourselves with objects we find beautiful. 

Right now, this weekend it's the ICFF - International Contemporary Furniture Fair - or at least that's what I think the acronym stands for. People I know, contemporaries, friends are there right now, in New York City, presenting their products and ideas to an audience of industry people - architects, designers, people interested in good design. 

I am religiously following the hashtags on Insta - successful furniture in some way is purely visuals - if you are not captured by it visually you are unlikely to explore it further - I've never been attracted to ugly furniture, and had no desire to really test them, UNLESS, they were in a category that 'it's-SO-Bad-that-its-GOOD [things like that do exist, I believe]. Yeezus, some of the designs are good, and I really like some of them, and some I saw thought were just mediocre [so execution is flawless - some people get trapped in that often, focusing on the skill rather than the design; once you are a master of some skill  it is important to still grow and challenge yourself - one way to do it is to design withing your expert field]. 

I just had this crazy idea - that if you can ask about your creation - is it reasonable? and if the answer is 'yes' than it is not art. I think art needs to have an unpredictable component.

But back to ICFF. No way I am ICFF ready. I don't think I have enough of a strength in my ideas just yet, to show, and be very successful. I don't want to sound cocky or anything - but I do want to sound confident. It's been like 10 years since my first show - the first Radiant Dark - we showed Jackie Treehorn, that table that was stolen from me - check my Instagram for that story and the visuals, if tickles your fancy. I remember sneaking some liquor to the opening party that time - and what audacity - we re-used original plastic LCBO bags, they were great and people re-used them for other things too. Why? What artist/designer would sneak some liquor to their own opening? I don't know - I can't remember - I was young and stupid - I can't answer that question, but I am assuming that there was a perfectly logical and reasonable explanation for that. It was a blast! It was a good party! - that's what I remember!

It was a bit overwhelming this Design Week - I did not anticipate such an amazing response, but it only makes me thirstier for another great show. Yea, I had some good and great ideas, but nothing of enough of a calibre to make a serious dent on scene such as New York - that's real big leagues. And I dare not even phantom Milan - yeezus! that is like at least 5-8 years away. But people are doing, so why not?

Chapter 2 - In the mean-time.

When I don't design and build furniture I attend to projects like these. 



[picture shows PAX boxes being installed within a wall cavity]

I am gonna spare you the write up on why I like the PAX - I've written on it extensively [hit the PAX label on my blog]. But the critical key to a successful PAX is the install portion. Plus if you want to make it look like a million bucks than you definitely need to hire me. If your house has gracefully aged - like this one for example - to straighten it out would require tremendous effort, in the process completely wrecking a lot of the finishes  - like old marble floors, built-in cabinetry - which also nicely settled. 

This one is a rescue, the installation already happened - but it was so grotesque [that's the only word that came to my mind; like a bad clown] - that it just needed to be rescued. This portion of the project is just an exercise in keeping things plumb, level and square. The next step will make this project 'pretty' - I am considering how to 'make it look like a million buck$' - ain't nothing wrong with that. Plus there will be some nice custom bookcases to the left. 

*edit: people are upset that I wrote that it is a 'rescue install' - let me state that there are wonderful trades out there who do an awesome job - but cabinetry [which includes IKEA cabinetry] is a special trade. You have realize that in order to install cabinetry properly - for it to not only look good but function properly - YOU DO NEED TO INSTALL it PLUMB, SQUARE and LEVEL. If you won't do that it will not work properly. Sometimes it means having to hack the cabinetry, OR doing some small OR major tricks to get it to sit properly. I've been making IKEA cabinetry look good for ages now - I know what I am doing, I know what is required. IKEA cabinets were not meant to be installed by everyone, yea, sad truth. 

Once I am finished I will upload some pics.

I think it's gonna look really good. 

Ciao!

** BIG EDIT:

Client sent in some finished pics. Here they are. She is still hoping that I will be able to hide that horrible slope in the floor [as referenced to the cabinetry]. And I do have some ideas on how to do it!

Remember, regardless of whether you want just install, build it in, or 'make it look like a million buck$' - PAX  closets are THE BEST DEAL AROUND! And the flexibility of hardware, fittings, shelves, organizers, boxes, baskets, 'hanging-things' means that once the box is installed it can be customized by the end user - no need for expensive call-backs!


[picture shows built-in, add-on bookcases - design meant to blend in with the existing fireplace]
[picture shows a built-in PAX wardrobe with IKEA doors painted to match the trim]

[picture shows PAX wardrobes installed on an un-even, sloping floor]

** there were no arbitrary decisions here. When the door closes on that closet it comes within a 1/4" of the end panel. Yea...there was a lot of planning on how to make it look good. And I think I am successful. Screw off HomeStars!!