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. 


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. 



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!!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

THINK BIG - free workshops + LUX Hacks

Chapter 1 - Think big. 

Always. One should have at least 5 year 'creative horizon' - or at least 'professional horizon'. We live in a society - economy - that is growing at an exponential rate [a result of automation + AI] - information and skills are readily available and accessible. Ranging from full-time university education, semester long college skills courses, all the way to weekend seminars that will issue a certificate that you can tax-deduct and put down on your resume.  It is easy to grow professionally. 

And we should. 

So what am I doing about it? 

I am gonna be offering a free once-a-month workshop.  I do have a maker space in mind. I am thinking about a project - something that is small but could be conceptualized and critiqued in a group [sorry that's the process - sometimes you will hear that your ideas are not great; it's a chance to improve or be foolhardy]. I also want to teach about non-orthodox thinking - design hacking - recognize areas of possible positive change through non-conventional means. 

A significant portion of my endavours are not really money-makers - like parenting or volunteering. Strictly speaking - monetarily speaking -  I would be compensated in a significantly larger amount if I chose to focus my efforts just on myself - but I feel that it would be unethical. I always ask myself - what am I working towards? What is my contribution to society? I want for everyone - not just myself to be successful. 

This July I will be attending the Maker Fair in Toronto and I will be asking questions - handing out questioners - gathering information - 

What do you want to hack?
What skills do you want to learn?
Are you a designer that wants to learn how to Design/Hack?

Once I will analyze the data, I will design an IKEA Hacking course tailored exactly to the needs and wants of the Maker Community. I hope to offer the course for free, or for some nominal costs [there will costs, say, just even with the venue]. Money-making scheme comes in with access to the maker space, material costs/pre-fab - but the core 'idea portion' I want to give away - it will let people be creative on their own - just give them tools - it will be up to them on how ambitious they want to get; they will be able to pace themselves; they can make on their own time. 

See you in July!

Chapter 2 - KingK+QueenT Lux Hacks Collection

I will be launching a collection of luxurious IKEA Hacks that I will slowly introduce on my Instagram page - check it out - www.instagram.com/karol.kosnik/

One way of doing hacks is with a surface treatment - you can be traditional about it - say just paint it - but I think it is nicer if you can give that surface treatment a 'spin'. I have written why I am partial to laminates as a surface treatment before - why love them? and especially the ones from ABET Laminati - fancy Italian laminates - go see their showroom - you will be inspired, I guarantee it. I have been going to Abet for ages - and have been hauling away their rarer, discontinued, not available, vintage stuff for years now - it's pricey too, I got some really exclusive stuff - holy cow! I am excited just writing about this stuff; which way am I gonna lay it out? which one am I gonna use where.....OMG!

Keep watching my Insta + there is gonna be my show in January of 2018. Arranging  for gallery stuff already! There is gonna be an opening and booze! hahaha! That's the one night to shine, right?!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

How to build a base for an IKEA kitchen ISLAND - will make a VIDEO too.

Chapter 1 - PLANNING is your BEST tool.

You already know the advantage of doing an IKEA's Sektion for the kitchen re-model - addition of a kitchen island. 

Island additions are an amazing opportunity to increase functionality and flow of your kitchen work - smoother and better. It also offers a great opportunity to make a nice design statement - IKEA offers wide range doors and you can get pretty creative with the island geometry with the availability of the large panels in matching finishes - you can now make large surfaces look professional!


I saw London Grey from Cesarstone in the showroom at IKEA Etobicoke! Yea....I got to say - Frosty Carrina and London Grey are my two favourite stones. These are 'premium stones' and if IKEA has them means that they can get you probably the best deal around - and you get an amazing discount [max 20%, with 3 appliances - kitchen event ON NOW].

Chapter 2 - HOW do I build my IKEA SEKTION ISLANDS

*EDIT: Here is the VIDEO LINK!

The advantages of my system are as follows:

A] Flexibility! of where you want to install - over any materials. ALWAYS check the floor if you are going to be drilling into it - cables? wiring? piping? YEA! IMPORTANT!

B] Simplicity! Once built, setting your cabinets is a breeze! And knowing that your levels are already established, you are able to focus your efforts elsewhere - like making things nice. Once the base is installed, the 'leveling portion' is done. Use a laser level on runs more than 4 feet. 

C] Creativity! - with my system you can focus your creative energy on interesting kitchen island geometry - open up any fancy Italian design magazine and using the structure you can copy those!

Win! Win! WIN! - that's all I say!

Chapter 3 - the Drawings

A] I am attaching 3 drawings - they are progressive - I hope that they are clear enough - BUT I will supplement with videos - today or tomorrow. 
Let's start with this - 2 boxes side by side. This is a fairly common combination - PLUS I am partial to the 15/15 split - I just think it looks the cleanest PLUS you save on hardware [hardware can get expensive - as much as a SEKTION box! - $50!]

[please note - I omitted the front piece for clarity]

B] The secret of this system is that - IT IS ALL MADE FROM THE SAME DIMENSION plywood piece. Use 3/4" construction grade ply - try picking a nice flat sheet, but don't sweat it if there is some kinks in it. The way the base is built - ORIENTATION of the pieces IS THE KEY - it is SELF SQUARING! 

C] Here is the detail section - so the top portion is actually 'floating' over 'fixed points' - there is a reason why it is done this way. First reason is that this is super easy to execute - build the base and level the four courners - THEN you further secure it to the subfloor. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Making BODBYN look NICE - it's all in the details.

Chapter 1 - first a bit of a rant, but it follows with great advice!

[picture shows Karol Kosnik gauging the appropriate height of a charging station]

Chapter 1 - bit of a rant, but great info to follow!

My new found fame - yea I got covered by tons of media - traditional radio, TV, online, blah..blah...blah - has generated quite the attention on my little business. Yes, because it is small business - I run a studio practice.

What does it mean to run a 'studio practice'?

It means that there is great variance in the type of projects that come in - size, scope, curiosity. It means that I have great flexibility in the type of projects that I can pursue. I don't think that there is anything wrong with saying that I have preference for specific projects - things that I like doing - things that I will excel at!

A] I love modernism* as a design movement - all my designs are what I would consider 'modern'. If you are looking for a highly ornate, 'carved angels on bedposts' kind of look, that I am not your guy. I think someone who has passion for that type of woodwork will likely do much better job at it than I would. My philosophy is 'do what you love'. Plus, I don't have those skills.

B] I like creating 'striking interiors'. It is easy to create dramatic, impressive interiors with big budgets. It is significantly more challenging to do so when your budget is small - it requires being creative with materials and clever sourcing [like IKEA!! no-brainer there! everyone builds their boxes the same way!]

C] I have to be the right 'fit for you' - yea, not everyone is totally comfortable with my style. Don't get me wrong - I love what I do, I go above and beyond for all my clients [shhh...wanna know a secret? I design and build for myself....I want to create something that I would personally like to have, something that I would enjoy]. No worries, if I feel that I am not the right person for the project, I will let you know about it. MORE, I will point you in the right direction - 'look at this company', 'consider the services of this individual'. Why would I want to set myself up for an expensive failure, unhappy client, crappy workmanship? Why? It's so counterintuitive.

If I will take on your project you can rest assured that it is a well thought out decision. You will only be presented with best possible options. The resulting product will be of finest craftsmanship. AND those are the only acceptable options. There, I said it. So don't hate on me because I don't post on Instagram every single day, OK?

The other secret - well it's not a secret, I think it is just a good practice - is that I have been doing this for about 20 years now! [That's right! OLD MAN HERE! hahaha! Every time I get ID'ed at the Liquor Store - where I live, it is a government agency that runs the stores that sell booze - yea! I like my beer cold! - I chuckle a bit.

Every time that I encounter an tradesperson that impresses me with their work - quality of workmanship; attention to details; personal aesthetics; good practices; creativity!; there is many criteria! - I take down their personal info, and tell them - 'hey! I want to work with you in the future!'.

I may not have a project that requires a gas fitter right away, and trim-carpenters are a dime-a-dozen, or the plumber is a really young ambitious apprentice - I can see potential that I would like to have in my projects down the line. So I keep this little 'black book' that is filled with names of great craftspeople, that I know I can always turn to for help on my projects.

And I am never disappointed!**

Chapter 2 - Making BODBYN look NICE - I hope this is what the great Google engine brought you here for.

If you show up at IKEA Etobicoke for breakfast before 10AM, you get a FREE coffee!

Score!! I win with that free coffee. Here is a great solution for IKEA kitchens - AND it looks like a million bucks. If you price this out - the cost is marginally higher - given that you can do this yourself - but the solution, I think, is superior. 
Measure this stuff yourself, go to a fabricator and ask - if you shop around, you will get that stainless backsplash in the price of the tiles+labour2installThem - it's not difficult to self-install -

picture shows a nice Studio Kosnik design - IKEA Bodbyn kitchen with a stainless steel backplash and side splash - this is a great idea for IKEA kitchens]

I have to say that I am a big fan [on top of being SUPER-practical] stainless steel backsplash options. When I design a SEKTION kitchen I always suggest this - in the long term - it is more durable, it will look better, it is easier to clean and maintain - AND - you will love cooking knowing that you don't have to worry about stuff splashing around. Having your grout lines saturated with cooking fat is just annoying, on top of being 'not hygienic'. Do you not agree? Everyone I know settles for a stainless steel vent hood - all you got do do is add the 'side wings' and the back - that's right 'grease me up'! I.DON'T.CARE!****

There is something impressive about having a giant, heavy, steel cooktop - I used to work at a professional kitchen - nothing serious, but enough to develop a taste for a little cook-up. But 2 things get in the way - money - yea, those things are expensive or very expensive; and space - yea, they are big and don't work well in small spaces.

How do you get over that obstacle? This, up there. You can fit a nice, good quality stove/oven combo in that space - say 30" or even richer! - 32". Put that together with a vent - there is many nice imports coming in, at a very reasonable prices from overseas. And, the way things are going down in the good old USA - I LOVE AMERICA - China might become a larger, more important trading partner - a virgin territory that Canadian firms will have an advantage over their American counterparts [ thanks to the Trump rhetoric]. SORRY that got out, but geo-politics will start playing into the sourcing equation.*** We might be in on some good deals - let's be smart about it Canada!

This here is such a good option - many stoves will feature an overhanging lip - which covers the gap between stove and the side of the cabinet - so it is important to set your cabinet height properly - easy peasy 2 do with my system. Look for that feature when you are purchasing a stove - it will go a long way with you not worrying about stuff spilling between - grimy nightmare.

You know, as I say it - the SEKTION box is amazing. I just love it - it's so flexible to design with.
And that's what's on the other side - with distinction. I like it. Success. 

[picture shows a open bar IKEA Hack kitchen - with Frosty Carrina countertops; Lower doors/drawers are IKEA Grey BODBYN, uppers are in White BODBYN]

So what's my other 'Great Bodbyn Tip'?

Well, I was at IKEA Etobicoke, few days back, and they are setting up for another BODBYN display. And as I am listening on the conversation - I know it is wrong to snoop around - the installer tells the IKEA designer that because the wall is 'crooked' - surprise! when isn't it? huh? - they will have the side panels sitting at different depths - if they are not going to cut them down [my addition].

So on the island, the side panel will stick out a different dimension past the doors than on the wall - that's what I call an 'inconsistent look'. So your 'detailing' on the project will vary - introduce dimensional discrepancies. If you are a perfectionist like me - things like that annoy you, on top of looking 'not sharp'. And you know what? There is one thing that sets nice design apart from amateurish ones is exactly this 'consistency' - I want everything to look the same.


FOR BODBYN DOORS - I set my panels the same dimension all around - about 5/8" of an inch past the side gable - do some experiments, see what it looks like. It is a nice designer detail that allows for a smooth, designer, transition from the door/drawer to the panel. Where I think it is a good look if the panels stick out full dimension past doors like Veddinge, I think it is a 'smoother' look if the doors transition nicely to the panels along the radiuses. It's all about the details!


Chapter 3 - They said 'You need Instagram' - OK.

Recently, I installed some really nice marble pulls from Superfront - that Swedish lux-wonder. If you are in DA GAME, you know know them for their really nice - high end, I would say - pulls, as they will ship to Canada. That sacrilegious! holy wafer pull! - if I was a religious conservative I would ban them out of Canada just for that! So back to installing them - when I heard the price paid for those 2 marble balls - which, I don't see a reason why you could not manufacture here in Canada - save on shipping! - I am not going to write the price here just yet. I will hold off because the price was so ridiculously high that I am certain that I misheard - so I will go back and verify that high price. You can see those nice marble pulls on my Instagram account - here is the link -


Superfront makes a nice product. Here is a plug - on my blog, but I will also tell them that I am going to look into manufacturing a similar product here in Canada.

Done writing for the day!


* I also love Art Deco and Art Nouveau.

** By the way, I hate HomeStars - I think it is a bit of a scam - personal opinion - the one time I DID use HomeStars turned into a total nightmare. I was so pissed off. Did not leave a review! Suckers - I said I am NOT going to join that circus!

***IKEA already is making America great again by sourcing their BESTA boxes in the USA. Made in America, with pride. But here is the catch - it is a highly automated operation - the jobs there are low-wage manufacturing - we are not thinking the boom of the 1960's economy. I am certain that IKEA offers great benefits package - they are on the EUROPEAN MODEL - you get a very nice vacation, and like a month!; shorter workdays 2.

Monday, February 27, 2017


Chapter 1 - Sometimes you just want to chill. 

Where else can you take bored, hungry children on a Sunday - and still ensure that they get some exercise? IKEA, of course. 

It was a ZOO. There was absolutely no way that you could produce efficient, satisfactory results on the IKEA kitchen planner. If you watched my video - on how to use the planner efficiently - you would have known that. 

But sometimes being productive is not always the goal. Sometimes you just want to chill and watch your children be successful - just playing around other kids. I think IKEA makes some amazing children's toys - I think their offering creates for a very open ended, positive, inclusive game play. 
I can honestly say that we spent at least 2 hr at IKEA. I laid on a bed watching hundreds of people pour by me - exploring, touching, evaluating products - potential consumers right there. I read some stats and apparently IKEA Canada is doing really well - a leader - they are THE destination for home furnishings and decor. IKEA's success is directly tied to its ability to mass produce objects that people need [that is something that is completely opposite of what I do, total and complete customization; I am a furniture designer]. I wondered, for the hundreds of people that walked by me - how many of them cared about the amount of smart, forward thinking design and cutting edge technology that went into each product?

A pregnant couple [yea, I know, just the lady is pregnant] with a young daughter walks by me and looks at the next bed, that I am on. It's handsome dark lines, some curves add flair - the design details mimic some other fancy era design. They speak a foreign language, but I can read the body language and the positive nods - they are interested. Their little girl gets up onto the bed. 'Look,' I say, pointing out the flexibility of this design, 'this beds extends, it can be made larger. All you have to to do is buy a larger mattress.'. 'Ah...thank you,' they nod in approval. I think this makes the sale, as they write down the product number. 'Yes, a successful sale!' I think to myself. No wonder IKEA is doing so well. 

People just want functionality - not everyone wants or cares about high fashion design. 

Chapter 2 - OK, so what's next for me.

A] I want to do even more, now that the show shone a bright spotlight on my practice. I will focus more on designing and hacking. I want show what is possible - and how to take the best advantage of what IKEA has to offer - IT IS A LOT!

B] I am currently looking for a maker space to start hosting meet-ups  - IKEA Hacking. I am also looking to offer workshops - some free, and some for a fee. What are you interested in doing? Fire off an e-mail and let me know!

C] I am gonna up my social media game - I will still write - cause I am a writer first! - but I will also start producing videos. I reviewed all the traffic to my site and identified most popular requests and search queries - will be doing one shortly - may even today!

D] I will stay creative - remember you should always have a 10 year horizon - creative, professional. Where do you see yourself in 10 years? 
NOTE: 5 year horizon is still acceptable. lol.

Stay creative! 


Friday, February 24, 2017

Alright! Alright! Updating blog!

Yeezus! People hating because I don't update the blog! Here, update! 

They love me! They really, really love me. 
Yes, I do good work. 

There, now back to work. Check my Instagram - I just got it and started posting to it - mind you, there is some personal stuff there too. 


Sunday, February 5, 2017

Toronto Design Week - ToDo Symposium - Reflection & Review - American Perspective

here he is! Mr. American, Ivan McCuistion

Chapter 1TODO 2017 Reflection: Work Culture, Well-being and Seeing the unseen

Red cup in tow, a half-flight of white steps led up into my momentary heaven at the DO Festival 2017 in Toronto.

“Remember Tomorrow?” a brand poster asked, before cascading deeper into eloquent paradoxes. Marrs Brand Future, even the name rang true! Hasn’t the planet Mars long been an icon of the future, yet riddled with uncertainties and failures?

Looking deeper into the white-walled gallery, the divergent handcrafted housewares furthered my perception of the thesis: question our implicit promise of the future. What do we assume and is it so? The Marrs Brand Future exhibit acted as a portal for inquiry into the Unknown-unknowns(1), as Jamer Hunt would present two days later at the DO Symposium Talks.

I promptly insisted two friends arrive at the Marrs exhibit for discussion. They did, and we quickly found ourselves debating the unprecedented personal security that individuals in developed countries enjoy—a gift born of the future. Yet are we suffering with self-inflicted isolation? Going deeper, we wiki’ed national suicide rates and asked ourselves, at what threshold of discomfort is suicide warranted? What is the mark of a greater civilization, lower indexes of violence or lower indexes of self harm?

As a society we need more space for this, as Erika Bailey spoke of it, we need more real-talk. I agree wholeheartedly with Jamer Hunt’s concluding keynote at the Do Symposium. In design, and more broadly in all creation we need to adapt tools and culture for more discourse in our work. Perhaps our capacities for creation have grown far larger than our collective bandwidth for discourse. But Hunt probed the audience to think of this as an integral part of the design process. It isn’t enough to be retrospectively critical, as was done in his Design and Violence collaboration(2). Designers must leave space for unforeseen consequences to arise in their process and actively address them. Yet my personal experiences with intense focus and isolation leave me wondering if there is a conflict between corrosive cultures and the state of mind necessary to see the unforeseen.

I could not have marveled at the Marrs Brand Future exhibit if I were under the pressure that some organizations still praise or demand. Fortunately work culture is evolving, and Erika Bailey of The Moment provided clues on influencing these cultures in her talk. She cautioned us of the complexity and challenge of changing culture, yet offered striking quantitative results. “Invite the unusual suspects!” Bailey proclaimed, and Jamer Hunt too reinforced the value of the unexpected perspective in design discourse.

Bailey described culture like an iceberg, with our customs and artifacts seen above water but supported by dense histories of behaviours and belief systems below. She emphasized it isn’t only the elements of culture that are key, but being aware of the language that is used around those elements.

Rejecting the notion of a work-life balance, Bailey offers a holistic approach where the whole person is welcomed into the workplace. Rather than balancing a scale, she advocates for respectful and meaningful integrations of work and life. “You must care,” Bailey implored us. At every step proposed towards changing culture, Erika Bailey challenged us to get real in our conversations, intentions and reflections on progress. Throughout the process we need to give time and persevere, 12-18 months in her workplace examples.

This is a challenge I want to continue to develop, let’s get real about our well-being, our workplace culture and our culture of creation. Bring yourself, your whole self—known and striving towards wellness—into conversation. Let’s ask each other if we are creating recklessly, let’s define that, and even dare to ponder broader impacts. Let’s ask what did the future promise and what it will promise. We need to ask not only if our civilization is great, but what have been our unintended consequences. We’ll be discussing our iceberg, but let’s develop an awareness of our language in process. In doing so we may prime ourselves for cultural changes and possibly see a bit deeper into the unforeseen—the unknown unknowns.

Respectful, honest and challenging conversations are a necessary tool in evolving culture, whether in the workplace or in creation. To recapitulate Jamer Hunt, where do designers go for philosophical criticism of our work and process? Who is helping us see the unseen, and how do we see it sooner, before a product is launched? Are we leaving space for this discovery in our working process, in our culture?

Yet this isn’t enough either, as Bailey points we’ll need to address multiple points in the culture to affect change. While this is reaching beyond my present knowledge, it seems obvious that our creative capacities have outstripped our ability to educate each other, share and conviene. Do we need more regulatory control or broader—likely competing—design tribes that share insights. Maybe these tribes function like competing academic networks, and put the person first, not the brand or marketing.
Together we need to be more open to criticism of our discipline, our process, even ourselves. Beyond continuing to raise these ideas, I believe Erika Bailey’s talk offered insight into improving our own well-being, and thus primes us to reach higher, and look deeper.

1 – Derived from a Donald Rumesfeld quote https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/There_are_known_knowns

referencing Johari Window heuristics https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johari_window

2 – http://designandviolence.moma.org

TO DO Talks Symposium – http://todesignoffsite.com/event/to-do-talks-symposium-design-and-the-pursuit-of-well-being/

Jamer Hunt – http://www.jamerhunt.com/index.html
Erika Bailey – http://themoment.is/team/erika-bailey/

Ivan McCuistion – www.mcivank.com/works
Ivan is an American new to Toronto. He studied Industrial Design at the University of Cincinnati–DAAP and is currently freelancing at The Station, while seeking contract and full-time design opportunities in the area.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Toronto Design Week 2017 - Reflections - a Wall of Text [Part A]

Chapter 1 - Toronto Design Offsite Festival - I did it!

Usually in the past, as a side actor - I remember having my written pieces published by ToDo before; helping a friend with an install and a takedown for Come Up To My Room, or even with a build, it's all good times - this year I actually did something. 

I put on a symposium - first one ever - IKEA Hackers Symposium. It was a huge success! I initially feared the worse - low turn out. Believe me - it sucks when nobody shows up to your opening - there were offers of 'fillers', but I kindly declined. The option of RSVP kept me aware of how much demand there was for my offering. 

Instead, on the day of, the venue was packed. We were at capacity - people were standing outside! Few days earlier I was interviewed by CBC Metro Morning host Matt Galloway [prime spot too! 8:20am! - on air I said, 'I know that it sounds ambitious, but we will make Design history'. Mr. Gallowy said he liked that - influencing design history. The phone calls started immediately - old clients texted and emailed - loved the interview. Then the requests for quotes poured in - people completely disregarded my system - yea, that's right, I have a system - a quick way to generate quotes. 

Than that night, CBC Television did a segment - including a 2 min clip of 'me in action' - those 2 minutes were a result of a 2 hr shoot! Yea - an hour per minute! Not including the awesome editing and putting it all together - it was good. 

Blog is exploding. YouTube channel - ppl are subscribing - it's bare bones there - so I definitely have to improve my media game. 

Yep. Things are exciting. 

But amongst all that excitement there has been deep reflection. I find it curious - everything that happens around the globe - political, environmental, social events - I always frame within the 'IKEA ecosystem' - how will it affect IKEA's** global sourcing.  So for starters  - the election of Donald Trump and his radical views - and now actions too! - on issues such as trade, human rights or monetary policy - they are frighting. And then I thought about Canada and that dark Conservative veil that was just recently lifted with the election of Justin Trudeau - a promising young - handsome too - leader. Canada it seems to be in stark contrast to the United States - with its open, accepting and tolerant policies. Whereas I considered 'moving to Canada' before the election of Trump, a bit of a joke - now it seems that we - us as a society - Canada - may become a destination - a mecca of sort* - for those seeking higher liberties. 

Can we help out our American brothers and sisters who are in need? What can we offer them? Can we offer them shelter from uncertainty about their future? Can we offer them opportunities that they are getting denied in their own country? Can we offer them real, meaningful, personally fulfilling work?

You know what? Talk is cheap - a direct action is better. I met a young industrial designer at the opening party for ToDo. I am sitting on a bench in a church, giant install in front of me, quiet spot - and I meet this guy! What?! Trying to escape Trump?!

I think the install worked; it created nice individual zones; I did not feel like having music blasted at me and so I just chilled on a bench in the 'private area'. 



Hailing from the States, Ivan McCuistion is a new designer in Toronto. While admitting recent political developments are reinforcing, when I met him he was quick to point out he fell in-love with Toronto last February on a visit. “There are happy, healthy people here. Toronto is thriving and functional in many ways! It’s liberating, it’s how I work and feel. It felt like home.” Crashing with a good friend, Ivan made the move in October.

After getting settled, he joined the designer coworking space The Station. Ivan’s been investing in his own work and portfolio heavily as he’s looking to launch his design career in the city. He’s created ‘living’ mood lamps, minimalist bags, and loves to take his work into functional prototypes.

“I’m really keen on experience.” he says “There’s so much I want fix, and when I create, I know I get into subtleties that are beyond some. But I believe—cognisant or not—great experiences can be intuitively appreciated.”

Ivan was out at many Design Offsite Festival events, and they offered a range of subtle to lurid experiences. This was his first design festival in Toronto or beyond. After attending the symposium talks, Ivan has written about his most provocative experiences from #TODO17.

Cool guy. Easy to talk to. Smart. Yeezus, these are the types of American imports we want to have here in Canada - a brain drain in reverse!


*whoa! see what I did there!

**IKEA will hire about 200 refugee women to create a textile line - for distribution within immediate geographic area - meaning we can't purchase those here, in Canada, for example.

Monday, January 23, 2017

I Survived Design Week - Should get a scouting badge, ha!

Now you know my 'Handy side' - check out my 'edgy side' - f35.ca

Chapter 1 - I survived Design Week!

I want to thank everyone who came to the first ever IKEA Hackers Convention - it was a huge success. The venue was packed - at capacity - 


After the show, exhausted and hungry, I went to catch a bite at IKEA Etobicoke, and while I was browsing through the store - AND THIS HAPPENED FOR REALZ - a woman stopped me randomly and asked if I am 'That designer, the IKEA Hacker'....and I was like 'yea...that's me.'

And then! Even later at night - like at midnight! - I get an email from someone who told me that they attended my symposium and that I inspired him to create a meet-up and be more creative and start 'making' - GO! GO! GO!

I want to tell you - my dear readers! - sometimes, you have to be the first one to make the move, to do something, to organize something, to challenge yourself, to get creative! DO IT!

IKEA is here to help you! LOL! This is straight up from their AS-IS Sektion* - Look - 

Peace out....

Professional IKEA Hacker

*IKEA pun....play on words...see what i did there.....

Monday, January 16, 2017

It's DESIGN Week - SMELL you later MODERATION!

**Read the tab for 'IKEA Hackers Convention!' 

**edit: Big hold on! = my new found fame has my in-box ruined. Please be patient with respones! much appreciated! if you are bored you can check out my other project: f35.ca

It's Design Week!
Smell you later Moderation!

Come see my show January 22 - at the Assembly Hall!

We will make Design History together!


Yes! Someone recognized me at the opening party of the festival. 'Hmm....you look familiar....', 'Yes, I am the IKEA Hacker, show - Sunday - come see it,' I do a shameless plug. 'I was just on your website. Page, after page of blocks of text very little pictures. It's boring.' 


Nahh...It's ok. I am totally cool with it. I am a writer. I like writing. One of my new year's resolutions was that I will start posting more. There, it's working. If you don't bother reading my blog than you should not be hiring me. 

2nd edit*

I was just on CBC Metro Morning talking about my work!
google me: toronto IKEA Hacker!
I will be on CBC television later today!

toronto life - I'm famouse! I'm famouse!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

What's NEW IN 2017? - Confessions of an IKEA Hacker [just sillies]

That's a wrap for 2016 - End of the $1 breakfast!

[pictures shows what IKEA premium plus breakfast used to look like]

[picture shows IKEA Etobicoke restaurant, at breakfast time, almost empty after IKEA eliminated the $1 breakfast]

YES! It HAS HAPPENED! In Toronto, IKEA has eliminated their one dollar breakfast. I was there, when it happened. Look - 

[picture shows the receipt for the new IKEA breakfast offering] 

Let me be clear - an institution has died.  I knew that IKEA could no longer carry that cost. I think the $1 breakfast has been around longer that my oldest child has been around - that's about 13 years. I have been blessed with IKEA Etobicoke being only about 15 minutes away drive from where I live. I cannot recall the countless times we got up - me and my wife - after a rough night with them 4 babies of ours [oldest is 13 now, youngest is 4] and looked exhausted at each other and said - 'Yea, IKEA breakfast!'. No cooking, no making - or adding - to the mess of our busy life. We packed them all into the minivan and drove straight to IKEA - the earlier the better. IKEA restaurants open 30 minutes before the store opens - that was also the time that you scored free coffee - SCORE! I am writing this post and tears are streaming down my face.....** 

Yea, I remember buying - 6 times $1 breakfast, add to that 12 extra sausages which was only $3 more! - because of our family dynamics some ppl prefer the eggs and hash potatoes and some are more of a 'meat eater' - so sausage. Add some side of 'Princess cake' and some chocolate milk and we were set. We, the adults, would sit there for an hour drinking bottomless cup of free coffee, babies [or teens now...] busily chowing away at the food. And even if they got bored, we just let them loose to play at the 'unsupervised play areas' with other kiddos their age. And once everyone got full, we'd had out to the kid section of the store - kids rooms, by now littered with stuffed toys pulled out of the numerous bins scattered throughout...Those were the days. 

But that was just us. 

I think in the beginning, when it was launched - I don't remember the exact date when they launched it - but I do remember that era. It made fiscal sense. Right? I mean NOBODY goes to IKEA and doesn't by something. More money is made on small trinkets that are made in China - with cost to manufacture being pennies on the dollar. SO even if the IKEA restaurant made some money, made little money, broke even or even suffer a minor loss - it was still offset by the purchases of a small, medium and maybe even 'a large things'. Think of it as the cost of advertising - luring thousands into the store with a promise of a cheap but healthy meal. 

But the costs kept rising. IKEA first raised the price on the side orders - so extra sausage, bun, bacon or dressing. When initially you could purchase 4 sausage for a one dollar - IKEA increased its pricing. It was now cheaper to purchase a whole breakfast - get the extra eggs, hash AND 2 sausages for the same price as just 2 extra sausage - LISTEN, I am all about optimizing and that includes my meals, OK? 

When that happened, I knew that pricing adjustments were coming. A cup of coffee at a fast-food joint came to $2 bucks  these days - how could IKEA keep the $1 for a decent meal? 

And then it happened - PRICE INCREASE. I knew something was off immediately when I got to the restaurant - it was virtually empty - regulars - a lot of them seniors - gone! 'Hmmmm....,' I thought to myself, 'something is off.' I come up to the serving section and there it is - it's at least $3 to purchase the basic offering. IKEA did change it up a bit - you get 2 slices of tomato, and a toast on top of the eggs and hash /w 'bacon or sausage'. But still.....it's not $1. 

End of an era. 
End of an institution.
I am sad. 

**not really