The Future of Furniture from IKEA – Connected Homes & 3D Printing

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A Glimpse of the Future Brand Strategy for IKEA
I read a great interview on PSFK recently (link at the bottom of this post) with Rich D’Amico, Deputy Marketing Director at IKEA USA. The interview was exploring where IKEA sees the future of home & furniture design and asks the question; ‘where do they get their drive for innovation?’ D’Amico’s answers point to the exciting convergence of technology and creativity – where else – with 3D printing, a new line of ‘connected home’ devices called HomeSmart, and consumer insight driven creativity.

The HomeSmart line of furniture is due for release as early as next year (2015) and will see the integration of technology and furniture design in a trend D’Amico sees will only get bigger and bigger; “Through the interaction with consumers and the future trends that we see, that’s going to be the tip of the iceberg. It’s going to grow very, very quickly.” The sophisticated designs will see smartphones and tablets integrated into furniture pieces like the IKEA Notification Table below;

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Hacked IKEA notification table by Michael LaGrasta

The Future in 3D
3D printing represents another exciting new frontier to D’Amico and the IKEA design team.IKEA is developing a point of view about 3D printing.” D’Amico says, “Personally, I’m fascinated by it. I know that there’s even 4D printing technology out there now, too. We’ve been talking and brainstorming about what that means for us. Why couldn’t consumers print spare parts, replacement parts, the entire product, some day? I know that our team of product developers is working very closely with it now. It ties in beautifully with how IKEA develops products through co-creation, as If you ask me, how will we create products in the future? What will be the consumer’s role? I can see 3D and 4D printing playing a role there.”

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3D Printed IKEA Dentelle lampshades by Samuel Bernier

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IKEAs innovation is driven from a platform of simplicity and relevance (being as simple as possible and helping people figure out what it is they need and providing a solution for that).

A driving principle of the brand is a value they call; ‘constant desire for renewal’ asking themselves; ‘What can they do better? What can they do differently?’ Another value that drives innovation is what IKEA call ‘Daring to be different’. This is a value rooted in IKEAs history, how they’ve evolved as a brand and as a company. Back in the ’50s and ’60s, nobody was selling furniture the way IKEA was selling furniture. That was about ‘daring to be different’, and the same ethos continues to define the brand today.

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D’Amico describes the IKEA brand as ‘being open and approachable, simple, inclusive, very much down to earth, authentic, fresh, curious, conversational, insightful and empathetic. I would use those same words to describe our relationship with consumers and our relationship with coworkers. For me, it’s completely integrated. D’Amico says. Every touch point is either going to enhance the brand or it’s going to hurt the brand. For us, it’s looking at all those touch points with our coworkers and consumers and really ensuring that we’re delivering consistently and at the right level.

From an interview we spotted on PSFK
IKEA USA

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