“From a vision perspective, we aim for the many people with thin wallets and big dreams,” says Jesper Brodin (IKEA’s CEO), “For us to make something beautiful but costly, is a failure. Instead, we use a formula called ‘democratic design’.”
There aren’t many companies that articulate as clearly as IKEA how their business model responds to their mission. IKEA made the commitment to democratise design – to ‘side with the many’ – and they established five ‘Democratic Design’ evaluation criteria for all of their new products: Form, Function, Quality, Sustainability, and Low Price. Have a look at this Wired film of IKEA’s Head of Design Marc Engman, explaining their approach.
It all starts with low price: knowing the price tag you’re aiming for. With over 800 million store visits every year around the world, economies of scale are an IKEA speciality. They keep optimising cost via vertical integration of the supply chain; long term supplier relationships; and keeping waste to a minimum via their famous flat pack concept.
Only in the last decade has sustainability become a core part of the Democratic Design agenda at IKEA – ‘Sustainability cannot be a luxury’. They’re working on sustainable sourcing of all materials from wood to coffee and in 2017, there were over 100 IKEA projects and pilots worldwide contributing towards their learning about the circular economy.
Read more: IKEA Democratic Design