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IKEA’s Head Designer Talks About ‘Democratic Design’, Why Failure Is Good
By Dorothy Tan, 19 Jun 2017
If you have been in an IKEA store, you would probably have felt that strange desire to buy things you never knew you needed as you browse the open-plan furniture showrooms—for some reason, everything seems incredibly cheap and useful.
A few weeks ago, Adweek conducted an interview with Marcus Engman, head designer at IKEA, which may crack the code about why the Swedish brand is so good at producing homeware that people feel compelled to buy—apparently, the secret lies in a key concept called “democratic design” that influences all of IKEA’s products.
“There is a long history for the word. [Democratic design] was invented in 1995, within Ikea.”
According to Engman, when “democratic design” was first coined internally at IKEA in 1995, it consisted of only three pillars—form, function and low price. Quality and sustainability was added only a few years ago, although they have always been important guiding principles in the company.
“You have to have a love for how production works, new ways of producing things and how we can make it better.”
He also talked about what the design team is like at IKEA—there are only 20 full-time designers—and how the design process works. While the core design team is small, IKEA works with thousands of product developers and freelance designers to bring their products to the shelves each year.
“It’s this culture of daring to make mistakes that makes us more innovative.”
One of the most interesting parts of the interviews is where Engman talks positively about how the people working at IKEA are “the masters of making mistakes”. He said, “If you try, you will fail. What else is there? The worst thing would be not trying.”
Read the entire interview here to learn more about the design philosophy and process at IKEA.
[via Adweek, opening image Shutterstock]
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