Sunday, July 13, 2014

Confessions of an IKEA Hacker - 75 greatest reason for loving IKEA and IKEA Hacking - OR - Karl Marx would be so proud....of IKEA.

CHapter 1 - 75 Greatest Reasons for loving IKEA

If the title drew you in than, 'Good!', it worked. It was an experiment whether I can lure readers with a promise of a ridiculously and exhaustive list - lists are apparently 'the thing' to have on a blog - a count down - with the rule being that the no.1 be a some sort of 'self-realization' point. 

I will try my best, and, yes this entry does it does end with a self-realization.

I am still thinking about IKEA coming down on IKEA Hackers. After the initial uproar, IKEA quickly realized their error and backtracked. In a legally beautiful language - clinical and ambiguous - they said nothing except that taking up negotiation with Jules Yap - the IKEAHAckers.net.  IKEA has a very purposeful, well managed social media footprint - it showcases the best of their ideas implemented in an excellent fashion.

A well organized social media campaign by a disciplined group can easily knock several % points of any brand's stock value and cause any board of directors to crumble. In IKEA's case - in my opinion - their only corporate bungle - IKEA vs. IKEAHackers.net - vapourized tons of Positive Social Capital. I tweeted @IKEACanada in outrage! 

Read my post about IKEAHackers.net here. 


IKEA noticed.
IKEA cared. 

Jules Yap played her cards well. She threatened to move the entire collection of IKEA hacks - thousands of them - onto a new, 'yet-to-be' named domain name that was devoid of the name IKEA. This would certainly satisfy IKEA's legal team, but this though would be a slap-in-the-face for thousands of IKEA Hackers worldwide - that is anyone whomever purchased an IKEA product and cleverly repurposed it, or decorated it, or modified it - AND THEN with pride submitted it online for the ENTIRE WORLD TO SEE at IKEAHackers.net. 

Because that is where you go if you want to see the best of IKEAHack selfies! -people doing all sorts of crazy things with IKEA products!  

Jules Yap - clever lady that she is - sought out a legal opinion before going public with the dispute. If she could not win in the court of law, she would certainly win in the court of public opinion. And she did win. And now, after her win, I would say that the act of 'IKEA Hacking' is now viewed as a 'god-given-right' by anyone making purchases at IKEA! Just 2 [two!] minutes ago, I saw an image of someone who turned an IKEA wooden salad bowl and and 'IKEA cord with a lightbulb' into a neat lamp. And all it took is drilling a hole in the bottom of the bowl and feeding the electrical cord through. Assuming that the cord can support the weight of salad bowl [which I am pretty sure it can] - hey! a clever new product! I can just imagine the pride of the hacker who submitted their hack to IKEA Hackers website [that's mouthful of 'hacks', eh?].

And then.....it dawned on me! 
I got it!
I got it!
I yelled out. 

This is 'Democratic Design'! IKEA Hacking is the finest example of Design in the hands of masses! IKEA Hacks are products that are a direct result of people wanting to be creative. It is an example of people being liberated from Mass Production and taking charge of their lives. In society that very much feels repetitive and conformist, IKEA -  unknowingly, probably not intentionally -  created an avenue for one to reconnect with their own creative labour and the fruits of that creative labour! Karl Marx would be so proud....of IKEA.

Few years back I attended a symposium organized by the Ontario Crafts Council [Toronto, Canada] titled - Craft and the New Economy.  Basically it was an event at which various speakers talked about various aspects of 'making things by hand' - from purely practical aspects of running a craft business all the way to academic explorations of the theoretical. I even wrote a review of it, it's 'cheeky' - Here, you can read it on my Facebook blog, Buckskin Baby Review. For a whole day a listened to various people talking about the positive feelings of self-empowerment, creativity, re-connecting to 'economy-long-gone'. There was tons of materials and ideas, but the one awesome idea that I walked away with was this great line from Maria-Elena Buszek - she's an Associate Professor of Art History, from Univeristy of Colorado - 'Labour is my Medium!' She shouted that line while raising her fist in the air! I was stunned. 

I was stunned, because I consider myself a 'Maker' - a maker of things, a maker of IKEA Hacks. It's my profession. But there are millions of people in the world that are not 'Makers' in the true sense. They have 'other jobs' - equally important; they make the world go round and round. But maybe they've got 'desk-jobs' or are 'pencil-pushers' [that's my favourite anti-hero, no disrespect to 'pencil-pushers' everywhere....you know who you are....] and their work does not allow for their creativity to manifest itself in a physical fashion that beautifies their living environment. And along comes IKEA Hacking! 


A Short story of IKEA Hacking, Chapter 1

You go to a store. You buy a box that is full of parts - wooden or metal or plastic or a combination thereof - that also has a picture of a promise of what the final product will look like if you correctly connect all the pieces. But you also know that there exists an alternate universe of these such products that even though start off in the same way, through some sort of clever modification gain a new look or perhaps a new function or BOTH! The adventure begins.....

The end is unpredictable at best.

See how easy it is! 

I get swamped with requests for quotes - I developed a system to deal with the shear volume of them. But I feel compelled to share something with you dear reader.  Sometimes after sending out a quote - sometimes it is days later, sometimes it is weeks later, sometimes it is months - I get an e-mail back saying that the person did it themselves! Usually it was a timeframe - they wanted or needed it done now [I need some lead time]; sometimes it is the cost - who wants to pay for half-a-day of labour [I do have a minimum rate] to assemble a product that should not take more than 2 hours to put together with a Philips screwdriver and a hammer? People write me, or send me pictures and proudly boast that they did it themselves! And I always write back - Bravo! well done! - the e-mails brim with pride and self-satisfaction. Some pictures of hacks are very impressive, look very professional. Well done! Power to the people! 

I know that my work helps people  - read this anyway you want to...
But I always hope that my work also inspires people - read this anyway you want as well....

With IKEA Hacking, people, Labour is YOUR MEDIUM TOO! 
Be creative!