During Milan Design Week, the Teatro Manzoni stage was used to showcase DELAKTIG, the hackable living platform Tom Dixon has designed with IKEA.
“Before, you used to show a prototype of your work on a podium and hope that people would buy it. Now, you have to work a lot harder to get some attention,” ……Tom Dixon
It’s the lure of bigger possibilities that brought Tom Dixon and IKEA together.
To be able to do more than what Tom Dixon can achieve on his own.
“Historically people have thought of branding as a protection of an idea or a label or something. I think in the modern world, you’re only as good or as interesting as your network,” ……Tom Dixon
Delaktig is Swedish for “being part of something.”
The open-source Delaktig sofa is anything you want it to be – built as a simple, aluminum-framed piece that’s primarily a bed, it’s meant to be “hackable” by designers who can add all sorts of different features like shelves or even a baby’s crib.
Two-seaters, three-seaters, arm-chairs and chaise-longues are placed in a Tetris-like formation; side by side, back to back and end to end.
The fresh colours of DELAKTIG contrast with the optical extravaganza on the ceiling and the heavy red velvet curtains on stage.
The British industrial designer wanted to fashion a coffin and have Ikea produce and distribute it.
Ikea hated it.
Dixon partnered with the company anyway, and turned his attention to another thing people lie prostrate on: beds.
The Delaktig bed can convert into a sofa, a chaise, or even a luxurious dog bed. Grooves in the aluminum frame allow for clip-on furniture additions, like side tables and privacy screens.
The frame’s design makes Delaktig endlessly configurable.
Its frame will allow a variety of accessories to be added to the piece to customize it, such as armrests, lighting, a bassinet, or a loft bed.
IKEA wants DELAKTIG to change alongside people’s needs at home.
Families are living in more fragmented constellations, access to space is limited – crowded cities are changing customer needs.Easy to flat-pack and assemble but also sustainable to ship.
“We talked about design icons and this is something that is the very opposite of a design icon, it looks good but it’s adaptable for the future, it’s not going to be the same thing forever and ever.” ………. Marcus Engman ( Ikea )
“Open source highly industrialized design is quite a revolutionizing concept that could open a pandora vase of creativity but also challenging the relationship between furniture companies and designers”……. Tom Dixon
“We were looking into ways where the sofa could adapt to the constant changing and disruption in people’s lives,” …… Tom Dixon ( referring to research undertaken by IKEA highlighting how people are using space differently today.)
As part of the project in open source concept, IKEA and Tom Dixon invited seventy-five students from design schools all over the world to bring their ideas to the table.
The schools taking part in the collaboration are the Royal College of Art in London, Musashino Art University in Japan and Parsons School of Design in New York.
During a four-day studio, the students from Parson worked closely with Dixon, Ikea’s head of design, Marcus Engman and James Fuchter, a creative leader at Ikea.
They sketched ideas for accessories that could be used on the platform and different applications for the sofa bed.
At the conclusion of the workshop, the students presented their ideas to Ikea knowing that if something caught the brand’s eye, it might go into production.
“I think it’s important to us as a big company to reach out to universities to give something back” – Marcus Engman – “We have the knowledge around production, we can talk business to students.”
Both Tom and Marcus found it fascinating how you could see that what was happening around the world was affecting the students.
The DELAKTIG platform became a place where the students could develop their own narrative.
Ikea says that it is very serious about the collaborations and will purchase the intellectual property.
Students at the Royal College of Art in London came up with the ideas of attaching a crib to the sofa or clipping on a privacy screen on the side.
They were asked to take DELAKTIG “and go crazy, the more outlandish the better,” says Ian Higgins, tutor at the Royal College of Art in London.
The student’s ideas for developing DELAKTIG were on display in the foyer of Teatro Manzoni.
One of the stand-out features of the DELAKTIG platform is its use of aluminium.
“We want to do something that is highly industrialised and also highly customised for the future,” says Marcus. So they turned to the aluminium extrusion industry.
They created black and gold versions of the sofa.
Working with aluminium experts, Sapa, they have built base frame that is light-weight, strong and built to last, which allows to have some fun with it.
“When we started working with IKEA on the bed/sofa project DELAKTIG, we wanted to find collaborators that understood the opportunities that are around if you can think differently in this sector.
Bemz were the first to respond, to grasp the challenge and to jump into the experiment, which is an open-source, hackable bed frame that can be modified, transformed and upgraded at will” says Tom Dixon.
As part of this DELAKTIG project and its open-source ambitions Tom Dixon collaborated with BEMZ, a Swedish textile design company specialising in custom-made covers for IKEA furniture to create a unique collection of covers.
One of Tom Dixon first hacks of the platform comes in the form of a hairy beast – delightfully furry and 1970s-inspired.
“We have developed an extra furry cover in brownish-black Icelandic long-haired sheepskin destined to transform the Delaktig sofa from a hyper-normal Ikea product into a super-texture Tom Dixon seating sculpture” ….Tom Dixon
” This illustrates in the most extreme way the transformative nature of the project, where a new cover manufactured by Bemz can completely change the character of your sofa through the power of design.” ……… Tom Dixon “ A previously sensible, minimal, and rational bed sofa transforms into a moody, dark, and tactile animal.”
While students and third-party companies are creating accessories for the line, IKEA also anticipates that DIYers will come up with their own brilliant customizations.
During Milan Design Week IKEA ran a Film Festival highlighting as well the DELAKTIG “living platform” project and Tom Dixon had been interviewed about it.
“Delaktig is an experiment that challenges the conventional methods of creation and distribution of furniture and explores the notions of adaptability and future-proofing,” ….. Tom Dixon