Thursday, October 24, 2013

Why It Takes IKEA 5 Years to Design a New Kitchen

IKEA products are known for being simple, scaled-down, minimal, and relatively easy to build on a DIY basis. So why does it take the company up to 5 years to come up with a new set of designs for a kitchen?  The short answer is that it takes a lot of work to look easy, and a lot of complexity goes into making it simple.  

Kitchens are the new living room, and most homeowners would rather take pride in showing off their kitchens as a place for family and visitors to relax and hang out than in their living rooms or dens.  So IKEA has to come up with something beautiful, comfortable, striking, and yet relaxed and casual.  It's a tall order, and it takes time.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Wall Street Journal

Link to article:

Excerpt: "It takes car companies about three years to design a sedan, and handset makers can churn out a new smartphone in six months. But an IKEA kitchen takes half a decade to create.

The Swedish company uses a painstaking development process to produce cheap and sensible home-design items, all of which have quirky names and many of which must be assembled at home from kits. IKEA’s dogged pursuit of engineering products to bring down the price is helping fuel growth in emerging markets such as China and Russia.

IKEA has cut prices for decades, and plans to shave prices 1% in the fiscal year that began Sept. 1. But sales at the world’s largest furniture maker’s aren’t growing as quickly as they once were, and one of the challenges for IKEA’s new chief executive, Peter Agnefjäll, will be to protect the long lead times built into IKEA product design, such as those five years of development on a single kitchen.

“It’s five years of work into finding ways to engineer cost out of the system, to improve the functionality,” Mr. Agnefjäll said of the company’s 'Metod' kitchen, a new model, during an interview at a store in his hometown of Malmo, located on Sweden’s southwest coast.

The Metod kitchen (translated as 'Method' in English), is the brainchild of a clutch of designers sitting near IKEA’s headquarters here. The goal is to achieve'democratic design,' products that will work in homes whether they are located in Beijing, Madrid or Topeka.

IKEA—known for minimalist design—packs enormous complexity into a kitchen. Metod consists of 1,100 different components, and distilling them all into a cheap, green and easily shippable package has proved arduous."

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