Give engineering students a challenge and stand back. Last month Ikea recalled 29 million chests and drawers, including 8 million from the company’s Malm line, after numerous reported accidents and at least six deaths, possibly seven, going back to 2005. Ikea USA president Lars Petersson said it’s an industry problem, “The only truly safe way to have a chest of drawers in your house is to secure it to the wall,” according to FastCoDesign.
FastCoDesign discovered that engineering students had already explored the problem and created four different designs that don’t tip. In 2015 engineering students at Northwestern University’s Segal Design Institute were challenged with modifying Ikea Malm free standing dressers so they wouldn’t tip over. The requirements of the challenge were that the dresser wouldn’t tip over with up to 50 pounds of downward pressure on any drawer, not sacrifice storage capacity, be able to ship flat, and have a manufacturing cost less than $200.
SafeSlant – Segal Institute of Design
One design called SafeSlant improved stability by transferring the center of gravity to the back of the dresser and didn’t allow the drawers to come about as far. The slanted drawers are also harder to climb.
TipStop Dresser – Segal Institute of Design
The TipStop Dresser attaches the top drawer to a second set of legs that pull to the front along with the drawer. When the team studied the original Malm dresser they found the “tipping point” arose when the top drawer was pulled out — so they gave it legs to stabilize the entire piece of furniture.
Safe Shelves – Segal Institute of Design
Safe Shelves looks more like a cabinet of lazy Susans. With this design the center of gravity never changes. An extended base also helps stability.
Stable Storage – Segal Institute of Design
The Stable Shortage design has built in extensions on the drawers to increase stability, but also has a bottom drawer toy chest and storage cubbies that don’t pull out at all.
Ikea has not picked up any of the engineering students’ designs, according to FastCoDesign, but at least now we know tip-proof dressers aren’t impossible.