Whilst assembling some Ikea furniture last week I was reminded of the pleasure great design can bring.
It’s been years since I bought anything from Ikea so I had forgotten about the ingenious design of this Swedish furniture giant. From the perfectly flat packed pieces to the assembly instructions, everything was flawless.
Opening the boxes, I was a little nervous there might be some damage to the contents due to a few knocks the boxes had in transit. It was soon obvious that this was something that had been considered. The contents were packed so that all finished surfaces pointed inwards. There were thin layers of foam sheeting between items to stop any marks from rubbing and the outer cardboard was double walled, which meant it remained light weight but could withstand getting knocked. The contents filled the box perfectly so there was very little wasted space. I was already impressed.
Just under an hour later, with just two screwdrivers and a hammer, my desk, which has drawers and a hinged cupboard, was completely assembled. The process was simple and everything went together perfectly. Someone had obviously spent a lot of time thinking not only about the look and functionality of the finished product but also how it would be assembled. The unique screw and bolt system used in the construction was brilliant! Not only did it make the structure strong, it was easy to use and was used in discreet places to make it barely visible on the finished product.
The assembly instructions were also a delight. In a matter of pages their graphic designer was able to guide me through building my desk, with little more than line drawings and numbers. To make the instructions universal, not a single word was used in the document which is by no means an easy feat. I remember back when I applied for university, one of the entrance exams was to explain how to use a rubiks cube. We were given a piece of paper and a lead pencil along with strict instructions that written words were not to be used. Possible, but not easy – I know the challenges the Ikea graphic designers face.
Like any good design, if the end product seems simple and obvious then there was almost certainly a lot of hard work and thought from the designers to get it to that stage. While most people take great design for granted, putting together my Ikea furniture I was reminded how it can make such a difference to our experience with an item as end users.p>
The Ikea designers do a wonderful job of making something complex so simple and easy to use. They brought a smile to my face almost as big as the little guy in the assembly instructions. Now if they could just improve their customer service and online shopping experience I’d give them 10 out of 10!