Product: Beazley Designs of the Year
Q&A – IKEA ThisABles
To mark this year’s Beazley Designs of the Year, the Design Museum caught up with IKEA, Milbat, Access Israel and McCann Tel Aviv, Israel, about their latest project - a hack to make IKEA furniture more accessible.
A: It’s an honour to be nominated for this prestigious award. Thank you
A: 10% of the world’s population has a serious disability which prevents them from using regular furniture and they need to buy special, crude and expensive products. We want everybody in the world to be able to enjoy the affordable and designed products in IKEA by developing small add-ons that can make the best-selling IKEA products more accessible.
A: The original idea was developed in McCann TLV, The advertising agency of IKEA Israel, by a copywriter who has cerebral palsy. As the idea grew, we needed partners who specialise in accessibility and product design and we found Milbat and Access Israel as great partners.
A: Three of the most popular add-ons are the ones that assist with hand functions: Easy Handle, Mega Switch and Friendly Zipper.
A: Anyone can download the add-ons 3D models form the website, free of charge, and print it in a 3D printer. If you do not own a printer, you can contact local companies specialised in 3D printing.
A: We knew from the beginning that this project is challenging and experimental, but one that can make a real difference in the lives of so many people. There were quite a few challenges along the way, some technical and some legal, that made it very tempting to simply give up. Fortunately, we had an amazing group of people who pushed themselves everyday and believed that despite all the obstacles this idea can become reality.
A: First and foremost, the idea was conceived by McCann TLV's copywriter, Eldar Yusupov, who deals with disabilities due to his cerebral palsy disorder. Together with Yusupov, product engineers and disabled people, we visited the Ikea store and held a Hackaton to understand disabled people's needs better. We heard about the main challenges that they face at home and together we found the right solutions that will make the beloved and affordable IKEA furniture suitable for different kind of disabilities. That process is still happening, on the project's website we are inviting everyone to suggest a solution or tell us about a problem that we have not yet thought of.
A: That was one of our biggest challenges and the motivation for this project. Instead of buying custom made furniture, which are usually very expensive and awkward looking, we developed small and sleek hacks that make the cheerful and elegant IKEA designs accessible for everyone.
It was important for us to create maximum access in every aspect of the project, from the designated site that we constructed for the project, that was adapted for people with disabilities, to the products themselves, which can be downloaded free of charge and printed independently in a 3D printer based on models that we have made available to the general public.
It's important that people remember that brands can do good and can create a positive impact on our society. It is better to be bold, think big and try what has never been done before. It is also quite cool to get recognition for your achievement as we did with 11 lions at the Cannes Lions 2019 and the nomination for this award.