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Hacking IKEA

IKEA hacking is the practice of buying things from IKEA and reengineering—or “hacking”—them to become customized, more functional, and often just better designed stuff. The locus of the IKEA hacking movement is a website called IKEAhackers.net. It’s a showcase for people who have tricked out their KALLAXES, their ARKELSTORPS and their FLÄRDFULLS.

Would-be hackers can gather tips from other hackers, and once they’re ready, post pictures and how-to guides of their own hacks.

Expedit

[A favorite on IKEAhackers.net: the now-discontinued Expedit bookcase-cum midcentury-modern sideboard. Credit: Sindy Stevens; Courtesy of Jules Yap]

Some Billy bookcases and a Flellse bed were hacked to make Murphy bed.in the photo below, were hacked to make a Murphy bed.

billy bookcase

[Courtesy of Jules Yap]

 

bed

[Courtesy of Jules Yap]

Because IKEA products are available in so many countries and use metric measurements, a worldwide “hackerati” has been able to thrive. You see hacks posted from Australia, Russia, Israel and Dubai. Someone even posted a hack of a French country house library in an actual French country house. He used 60 Billy and Benno bookcases.

french country house hack

(French Country House IKEA hack. Courtesy of Jules Yap]

And of course, beyond the bounds of IKEAhackers.net, there are tons of people justputting up youtube videos or sharing flickr photos of their hacked IKEA items.

IKEAhackers.net was started in 2006 by Jules Yap (Jules is not her real first name—it’s a pseudonym derived from an IKEA product). But in March of 2014, Yap got a cease and desist letter from IKEA. IKEA claimed that using their trademarked name  was a violation—even just using the blue and yellow color scheme was not allowed.

Since Yap makes money off of the site through advertising, IKEA argued that she was profiting off of the IKEA name.

jules-sad

[From IKEAhackers.net. Courtesy of Jules Yap]

IKEA asked Yap to stop using the IKEA trademark or anything trademarked by IKEA including her domain name. It also seemed like she would have to close down the Twitter and Facebook accounts associated with her website. She was resigned to comply, but then came a huge outcry on the internet. Cory Doctorow, who blogs on Boing Boing, called the cease and desist from letter from IKEA “steaming bullshit.” Supporters of Yap felt like IKEAhacking.net was actually good for the IKEA brand, and that IKEA was foolish to make an enemy out of her.

Apparently, IKEA took the criticism to heart. A representative of the company contacted Yap in June and told her that they wanted to come to a solution that both parties could be happy with. As we release this podcast, Yap is traveling to the IKEA headquarters in Sweden to work out the details of the solution.  On her website, Yap said she was so happy she could “pee in her FRAKTA pants.”

IMG_4537

[The base of Sean’s new bed. Credit: Sean Cole]

Producer Sean Cole spoke with Jules Yap of IKEAhackers.net, and academics Daniela Rosner and Jonathan Bean (the latter of whom helped him hack an IKEA storage-bed out of KALLAX bookcases and some doors that can be found at any  big-box home improvement store).

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