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Ikea Hacking

There's a whole new world out there!

Ikea tables turned into guitars, broken chairs & surfboards turned into tables, salad bowls turned into speakers...

Alex Csiky, who runs Zachary guitars, set himself a project - to make a guitar out of an Ikea table top. The guitar became a controversy and was made to shock people. It was assumed that all fancy guitars are made of maple and other exotic hardwoods. He wanted to show that most don't reproduce the vibration of the strings very well due to the density of the wood. The Ikea guitar was made from a $15 Ikea pine table top & a $10 piece of pine from Home Depot. He sold the guitar for $1500!

Ms. Lam, Mr. Csiky and Ms. Domanic have never met but they are nonetheless related, connected by a global (and totally unofficial) collective known as the Ikea Hackers. Do-it-yourselfers and technogeeks, tinkerers, artists, crafters and product and furniture designers, the hackers are united only by their perspective, which looks upon an Ikea Billy bookcase or Lack table and sees not a finished object but raw material: a clean palette yearning to be embellished or repurposed. They make a subset of an expanding global D.I.Y. movement, itself a huge tent of philosophies and manifestoes including but not confined to anticonsumerism, antiglobalism, environmentalism and all-purpose iconoclasm

Meanwhile, Michael F. Zbyszynski, Assistant Director of Music Composition and Pedagogy at UC Berkeley's Center for New Music and Audio Technologies, hacked his way through Ikea salad bowls to create a low cost spherical speaker array. "It won't sound as 'accurate' as some other speakers, but it's surprisingly good and looks pretty cool on stage."

He has made other musical objects like 'Lamp, Candle, Lantern, and Firefly (2006)' which is a semi-permanent installation for enhanced solar garden lamps. installed at UC Berkeley's Center for New Music and Audio Technologies commissioned by Edmund Campion.

Mei Mei Yap is a Malaysian copywriter who goes under the name of Jules - named after a Ikea chair! She has built a blog - ikeahacker - which has become a community for ikea hackers worldwide to display their wares.

An artistic take on an Ikea chair by Anatomic Factory, a design collective in Florence, Italy

Her website often reveals which piece of Ikea furniture has been hacked - like the Stefan chair used in an artistic take on a designer Ikea hack by AnAtomicFactory. AnAtomicFactory is a Italian design collective consisting of Erica De Candido, Lucrezia Dirindin, Francesco Brunetti and Marco Popolo. Entitled 'Nata Vintage', their object surreally substitutes a walking stick as one of the legs of an Ikea chair. Magritte would've been proud. Marco Popolo states it was created to make a provocation: as a reflection on the eternal return of the "old" as a recurrent tendency of the market. New objects are created, not only with the idea of reproducing old styles, but also simulating imperfections, due to the passing of time: the new is already born old. Very post-modern.

Marco Popolo describes as a "very interesting big container rich with ingenious and original ideas." The fact that it shows "stuff made by common people" who are customising their lives particularly interests him - "This is a very contemporary phenomenon." is a place where 400,000 craftspeople, designers, and a fair number of Ikea hackers sell their wares. One particular example is the weiner bench created by Jack Rabbit. It takes the 369 weiners crocheted from dontated sweaters, an ikea lack side table covered by old t-shirts and wheels from an old filing cabinet - all for $1500! Jack Rabbit describes this process as 'upcycling'!

Robert Kalin, who founded Etsy in his Brooklyn living room loves that it is so darn pretty and subversive - "I love upcycling, I love [the] idea of bringing something from lower down and elevating it."

'Upcycling' was a name coined by William McDonough, an architect, and Michael Braungart, a chemist, in their 2002 book, "Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things." They used the term to describe the process of taking something that’s essentially waste and moving it up the consumer-goods chain.


Recommended Reading

Everything You Know About Guitars Is Wrong
Esquire magazine

Romancing the Flat Pack: Ikea, Repurposed
The New York Times

Ikea Hacker

Upcycling e-commerce website

A step-by-step instructions website

Zachary Music
120300 - the first "Ikea" guitar

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uk modern furniture

Recommended Reading | Articles | Design Ideas | Soft Furnishing | News | Resources