You are likely to have seen the apparent innovation that makes nonprofit IKEA the powerhouse that it is. Simply visiting the local Emeryville California store can be quite the experience. The store dwarfs Home Depot in comparison and has a variety of products and services; from DIY furniture to cabinets. Its innovation is reaching as far as robotics in order to create robotic furniture. IKEA’s most recent partnerships and research have been on urban design.
IKEA is rethinking urban design for homes to be more adaptable to our activities while keeping our spacing needs in mind. Take the furniture they have announced recently in collaboration with American startup Orientation Living as an example. Pictured above is the robotic furniture piece that turns into a desk, bench, Murphy bed, mood board, bookcase, shelving area, and storage cupboard all in one controlled by a single touch keypad.
But that is not all, IKEA is developing entire city centers instead of limiting themselves to just DIY furniture. Their vision is to create an environment of sharing public facilities including urban farms, communal dining areas, and compost drop-off stations. The Urban Village Project is reimagining the way we look at spaces and providing affordable sustainably conscious living spaces. This includes communal dinners, shared daycare, urban gardening, fitness, groceries, and shared transportation.
Partnerships for Urban Design
This space-saving influences the city planning that they are developing in partnership with Ikano Bostad and SPACE10. They have released the plans after two years of research with the two partnering companies. Jamiee Williams, Architectural Lead at SPACE10, describes the main problems that guided their thinking for the city centers, “We need to rethink design and the way cities are planned or they will be unsustainable, unaffordable, and unequal for the people living in them”. IKEA, therefore, is focusing on sustainability, affordability, and equal living for the masses.
The Environment in Mind
IKEA expresses on The Urban Village Project’s website that they want to provide cheaper, more sustainable housing options. Like our vision of sustainability, their vision is also coupled with the environmental initiatives that they already take on. For example, they are replacing polyvinyl chloride (PVC) in wallpapers, home textiles, shower curtains, lampshades and furniture and minimizing the use of formaldehyde in its products, including textiles. Another move toward sustainability also includes the idea of sharing household items, like a drill, between neighbors.
In conclusion, the partnerships they are working on far outnumber the ones mentioned in this article and therefore show their move into the competitive smart home business and urban design field. As IKEA rethinks what a home even is, certainly we can lead more productive and sustainable lives thanks to the research and work being done by them.
IKEA recently acquired TaskRabbit and cleverly put an assemble IKEA furniture option on the site. IKEA is looking to establish 100 economy hotels in Europe. An added bonus is their delicious food market with specialized cuisine to take home and devour.