Flatpack Empire

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The latest BBC series to have caught our attention is Flatpack Empire. Cameron shares his thoughts on one the episodes focus.

I have been watching the BBC 2 series “Flatpack Empire”; the inside story of IKEA and it is fascinating telly.


That first episode was an eye opener as to just how large IKEA is and the resources it needs; also what was interesting was the fact that IKEA too is subject to the rigours of competition and has to struggle to maintain its market position. This being a company that in 2017 had more than 900 million visits to its stores, in 49 countries around the world and which had a turnover of...wait for it...more than £34 billion.


But it is just as interesting to find out that no matter how big a company IKEA is and no matter how much they are guiding by their originator’s founding principles and values, they can still make mistakes or come across as “Emperor’s New Clothes” in some respects.


The Tom Dixon bed-sofa


Apparently Tom Dixon, for those in the know, is the “enfant terrible” of British design. I say “for those in the know” because I don’t count myself amongst that select crowd. When it comes to furniture design I know my “Barcelona Chair” from my elbow but apart from that and a few other things, that is about the extent of my knowledge.


I am also aware that the Scandinavians do have a passion for designer furniture and furnishings (only because I have read A Year Living Danishly), and perhaps this is partly the reason for IKEA making a decision to move out of their usual model of in-house design.


However, changing the concept of the sofa-bed into a bed-sofa is a little “Emperor’s New Clothes” to someone like me. And sure enough, the mistake made was that whilst the bed-sofa met the safety standards for a sofa-bed, it failed to meet them for a bed-sofa.


This is how the new concept of the bed-sofa is being described on the IKEA website:


“Modern life is fluid – by 2050, 70 percent of the world’s population will live in cities. Our idea of space and what a room is will become even more fluid. Think of the new modular DELAKTIG as a blank canvas. Once you know what size base you need, let your dreams and needs decide the rest... A sofa that’s also a bed, a work station and a reading nook? The idea of one piece of furniture that does almost all of it becomes more appealing!”


That said, I do think that in the future, we will get used to living in smaller homes. I think smaller homes could be a part of the long term solution to housing problems. And so, multi-purpose furniture will in turn have its role to play. But whenever I have thought about smaller homes (starter homes) I have always had in mind either student type accommodation or caravans as the source of inspiration.


(And as an aside, simply to maintain the Scandi theme, it is an unconfirmed fact – but one that has stuck in my memory for 30 odd years – that the student halls I stayed in at Aberdeen Uni were based on the design of a Swedish open prison).

And at the end of the day, did I like the design ans would I choose to have it in my house? Answer: No.


Watching these programmes as inspiration


A large part of why I watch this sort of programme is to find inspiration into how we can run our business better or improve our services or innovate. One of our core services is the provision of estate agency services for our clients, the marketing of properties. So what thoughts did come as a result of watching the progress of this new bed sofa?


IKEA is known and takes pride in offering furniture that is well designed and affordable – in this respect I think that our ethos is very similar – but IKEA perceived that there is a market that desires a Designer Brand that is a little more expensive than their usual items but which can still be mass produced, well designed and appeal to a certain lifestyle. Is this something that we can think about and take further?


The name of the bed sofa range is called “Delaktig” which is Swedish for “involvement”. It is described as being “a platform for living made in the spirit of co-creation”.  Now, that is something I do like. It is always one of the things that I hold to be true that people working together can achieve more than one person working alone. You only have to compare the music of the Beatles and then compare it with the work they achieved in their solo careers to see proof of this.


So, whether or not I like the bed (or is it a sofa) is beside the point. I love this type of programme as they are thought provoking. And watch this space to see where it may possibly take our estate agency service.


Passionate about property and providing great service at value for money.

Cameron Stephen
Partner with Cameron Stephen & Co. solicitors and estate agents, Edinburgh
0131 555 1296


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