Popular IKEA pieces such as the PAX wardrobe are being repurposed by a new breed of IKEA Hackers. Image courtesy of IKEA.
Hacking is an ominous word usually associated with illegally gaining access to computer systems. It conjures up images of covert programmers unleashing nightmarish viruses that eat their way through email contact lists. But there is a completely separate type of hacking currently gaining in popularity, and it relates to home décor.
IKEA Hacking is sometimes described as "consumer product intervention" but it is essentially a form of repurposing, which involves customers altering the end use of their product purchases or simply customising them by using basic upcycling methods.
It is a fun, creative home improvement hobby that is increasingly popular in most countries where there are IKEA stores. Thousands of people all over the world, from Malaysia to London, are adapting products for their own specific requirements and decorative tastes. Hacks can be as simple as adding a coat of paint and designer handles to a chest of drawers or as complicated as modifying a PAX wardrobe into a room divider and walk-in closet. Coffee tables can be repurposed into home entertainment units, kitchen units become vanity stands, door stoppers get a new life when attached to a floating LACK shelf to create a DVD recorder shelf, cheese graters become lamps and I have even seen sliding wardrobe doors used to convert a studio apartment into a one bedroom apartment.
One of the wonderful things about hackers is they are a generous bunch, sharing their ingenious ideas and DIY triumphs via personal websites, youtube videos and blogs to enable others to recreate their tried and tested projects. There are also dedicated community sites where hundreds of hacks are collated in one place, such as ikeahackers.net, and the main content is submitted by IKEA fans around the globe in the hope of providing alternative product and function ideas and heaps of inspiration for new hacking projects.
Interestingly, and perhaps reassuringly, IKEA Hacking was not the brainchild of IKEA and is not a sponsored initiative by them. In fact, as Jules from IKEA Hackers explains, the reason it is called hacking is because "it breaks into the IKEA code of furniture assembly and repurposes, challenges and creates with surprising results. And yes, some furniture may be destroyed in the process."
So hacking truly is driven by customer's desire for products that adapt to their needs and a growing urge to tear up the rule book and do things our own way.
However IKEA is joining in rather than fighting against the Hacking revolution by actively encouraging customers to think beyond the limits of the building manuals they supply with their products, in order to create new uses and hybrids. Videos of their in-house interior designers explaining how to repurpose products into creative home improvement solutions can be found on their official website.
So the next time you pop into IKEA do not be limited by the suggested end uses of the products - think outside the box.
For full details of the PAX walk-in wardrobe & room divider project pictured visit: http://www.ikea.com/ms/en_US/rooms_ideas/small_spaces/walk_in_closet_room_divider.htm
For hundreds of IKEA Hacking project ideas visit: www.ikeahackers.net
By Victoria Redshaw, managing director, Scarlet Opus, www.trendsblog.co.uk & www.scarletopus.com