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Pimp my computer desk: Ikea will “open source” a new line of customizable furniture

Why it matters to you

Ikea's new line of furniture breaks with tradition, leaving plenty of room for people to truly make it their own.

Its superstore might be hours away, but Ikea goods are all around you. If you don’t have a piece of its carefully crafted kitchenware or flat-pack furniture in your home, your neighbor probably does. The design is always Scandinavian minimalist: slick, clean, and practical, with little room for personalization.

That’s about to change. The Swedish furniture giant is developing a line of “open platform” furniture that’s meant to encourage tinkerers to modify products into new and interesting designs. Dubbed Delaktig (translated from Swedish to “involved” or “participating”), the project was first announced in 2016 as a collaboration with British designer Tom Dixon. Now Ikea has given a price range ($399 to $899, according to the Wall Street Journal), as well as an estimate for when it will be available — the first few months of 2018.

The first Delaktig piece will consist of an extruded aluminum low frame, wooden slats, and a cushion. With frame in place, customers can connect accessories like lamps, arm rests, tray tables, or privacy screens to customize the piece how they see fit. A number of these accessories can be purchased from Ikea, and a few third-party retailers already sell aftermarket add-ons. Ikea recently gathered a group of designers for a workshop at London’s Royal College of Art, where students worked together for one week, experimenting with new additions to customize the Delaktig frame.

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Ikea may be trying to capitalize on what’s become a trend among DIY enthusiasts who turn their flat-pack purchases into customized furniture. “People hack anyway,” James Futcher, Ikea’s creative lead, told the Journal. “We want to encourage that.” Though the company supports hackers today, its tone has changed since 2014, when Ikea tried to close IkeaHackers — a site for fans to share their methods for customizing the Swedish furniture.