Page 4: Today's business idea
Today, IKEA’s business idea has come some way since the earliest days of Ingvar Kamprad. IKEA sets out its business idea in the following way:
‘To offer a wide range of home decorating articles with good form and function, at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them.’
The three key dimensions of IKEA are therefore: Good FORM and FUNCTION, at a LOW PRICE.
Most designers will accept the principle that the form of a product depends on its function, e.g. the shape of a chair is determined by the need for a person to sit comfortably on it. The product which the designers create often incorporates two important dimensions - good design and practical function.
Nevertheless, it is still possible to encounter form without any obvious function. Sometimes beauty alone provides sufficient justification for the existence of an object - it becomes art. In the same way, it is sometimes possible to encounter function without form - a product is so eminently well suited for its purpose that its appearance is of no consequence. In our homes, however, the best solution is almost invariably a combination of both form and function.
However, form and function in harmony are only half the story. Affordability also has an important part to play. Price is the third and most critical dimension for those who seek to make good design and practical function available to the many, not just the few. It is the combination of form, function and a low price at the same time, which makes IKEA products unique.
Illustrating the key dimensions – The Öggla Chair
The best way to illustrate the concept of democratic design at IKEA is to take a specific example.
- Form - the Öggla Chair is inspired by Thônet’s Vienna chairs and was first produced for IKEA at its Th.net factory. The chair was produced in formed wood and was light, strong and beautiful.
- Function - this was a typical example of a chair which could be easily stacked, fitted many styles, was comfortable and elegant without being extreme. Thanks to its lightness, it was easy to move and handle.
- Low price - this, however, was not enough for Ingvar Kamprad, who commented ‘The chair is too expensive - we can’t sell it in a flat pack’. Designer Gilles Lundgren found the solution. A supplier in the USA, together with the enthusiasts from Småland in Sweden, found new materials and production methods to make it possible. Today the chair is made in recyclable polypropylene for use indoors and out. It comes with a stool, an Ögglett, in many different colours and combines the three dimensions of IKEA: form, function and a low price.