Start of a journey

IKEA 2000-
Purpose: Prepare for and make the future transit to LED technology cost effective.

Even if changing to the better takes time, it’s worth it. I think we need to look at our actions and the effect in the long run, especially when it comes to business. Sometimes it takes 2 years, sometimes it takes 15 and sometimes even a lifetime. Sustainable choices take time and effort, it takes knowledge and courage – but at the end it is always the right way to go. And in my experience, always the most cost-effective choice over time.

In 2000 I was responsible for the development of the seasonal collections at IKEA, the Christmas and the Summer range.

At that time IKEA used the seasonal collections for smaller scale testing with new designs or products. I would say it worked as a plant nursery for young designers where they would gather experiences and at the same time experiment and get creative. If the design proved successful it would be part of the standard assortment and produced on a bigger scale. One of the objectives in this project was to identify new suppliers and start other small-scale product ranges and evaluate the direction of expansion.

The LED-project became reality when IKEA identified and partnered up with a Chinese supplier that had set up his own lab and started developing and producing LED products. At this time LED was still very expensive but we also knew that LED was the future. The task at hand was to create and adapt products so that when the time was right, IKEA could easily change to LED.

I went to the lab with one of the senior designers at IKEA and a young design student. We started the project by creating a see-through curtain made with LED-stars to glow in the dark. The story we used to communicate the product was to place it in one’s window to always enjoy a starry night sky. It became a success.

Outcome: In 2015, 15 years after starting the partnership with the Chinese LED supplier, IKEA decided to change all light sources into LED as a conscious step toward a more sustainable business.

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