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Ikea’s Hackable Sofa Is Coming To The U.S.

The company’s open-source Delaktig platform encourages people to hack away.

Ikea’s on a mission to think more like a software company, and it’s going all in with the Delaktig sofa.

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The experimental furniture platform was conceived by British designer Tom Dixon and Royal College of Art students last year, and the sofa’s initial iteration originally debuted in summer 2016. Now, the experimental design is coming into sharper focus with a name and an announcement that it will hit American stores in 2018.

[Photo: Jamie Baker/Ikea]

Unlike your standard sofa–which is usually a hulking mass of upholstery, framing, and foam–the Delaktig is more like an interchangeable day bed. The secret is in a lightweight aluminum frame, made from 40% recycled content, that can receive clip-on accessories, like arm rests, backrests, lamps, side tables, and even a crib, as Royal College of Art students suggested after Ikea invited the students to participate in a workshop to explore what kind of attachments could make the Delaktig more functional. Dixon likened these additions to “apps for our platform.”

By inviting design students to participate in the development process, Ikea is welcoming outside perspectives into its design process, reflecting an open-source ethos. RCA owns the intellectual property of these concepts, and, if Ikea ends up using them, the brand would have to purchase the rights. Additionally, the student who came up with the idea would get the opportunity to work alongside Ikea at its headquarters in Sweden.

“Open-source thinking is one of the things that I believe will affect a lot of the way we do things,” Ikea’s creative director, Marcus Engman, told Co.Design when the sofa concept was first unveiled. “When we look at mass production and what’s ‘good,’ the measurements of quality are set by engineers. It’s very much that everything should be exactly the same. But what if that’s not the goal? Is [an experiment] ‘wrong’ but in the right way? That’s how the software industry works and how they develop.”

While “thinking like a software company” might make it sound like Ikea is latching onto an of-the-moment trend, it’s an innovative move. Most sofas–and furniture pieces in general–stay static, and when they outlive their use, they get chucked. This one morphs as your needs do, potentially giving it eternal life in your home–which is better for both shoppers and the environment.

[All Photos: via Ikea]

About the author

Diana Budds is a New York–based writer covering design and the built environment.

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