It’s been more than 3 weeks since my trip to Sweden and the Netherlands and I finally found time to gather my thoughts and write about my meeting with IKEA. I know some of you have been anxious to know the outcome and my apologies for not posting earlier. It wasn’t because I couldn’t talk about it. I have so much to say and found it hard to trim it down to a manageable blog post. Hence the trilogy.
For those who just want the scoop (and not my rambles), here is it.
I did not meet a single person in IKEA of Sweden or Delft who wanted to shut down IKEAhackers. Seriously, none. In fact, they were very supportive. Even the designers whose furniture we hacked, sawed, repainted, reshaped into things unrecognisable like what we do on IKEAhackers and are pretty tickled to see their designs turned into frankenthings.
The meeting with Torbjörn Lööf, the CEO of Inter IKEA Systems B.V. together with Anders, Henrik and Lena, was open, warm and honest. They recognised the contributions of IKEAHackers and admitted that they “did not handle this (the trademark issue with IH) very well”. What impressed me most was their willingness to admit their mistake, make a u-turn and find a solution that was good for both parties. Various suggestions were thrown back and forth and we came to the agreement that IKEA will continue to let me use its trademark on my domain, IKEAhackers.net, as long as my site does not bring harm or damage to the IKEA brand. (eg. porn, nudity, drugs – that kind of stuff which won’t appear anyways.) As of today, I have yet to receive a draft of the agreement. But for now, in all likelihood …
Yay! Pop the lingonberry juice!
I want to thank you for your support in this crazy situation. Without your very vocal support, I doubt I could have made this behemoth corporation change its mind. By now, you must tire of hearing me say this, but I will say it again from the bottom of my heart – THANK YOU! I am beyond happy. So let’s raise our saws and continue hacking!
Now for the blow-by-blow story which means you can stop here if that’s not your thing…
It all started in March 2014 when I received a Cease & Desist letter from IKEA. I was told that I had infringed upon their trademark and if I did not voluntarily transfer the domain name IKEAhackers.net to them, they reserved the right to take any legal action it deemed necessary against me. When I went public with that information and the possibility of my site having to move to a new domain, there was a huge outpouring of support from the public. Which lead to IKEA rethinking their move and subsequent invitation to meet me in person and talk about this issue.
I jumped on the plane and headed to Sweden and the Netherlands.
I arrived in Copenhagen airport on a blustery morning. It was sunny yet cold. But I was greeted warmly by Lena from IKEA of Sweden, my host for the next 2 days. She was waiting for me (and my two teammates) with an IKEA catalogue, hot off the press.
We got into her car and she showed us this. Our itinerary of the next 2 days. Handwritten. Nice!
First stop was IKEA Malmö, about half hour from the Copenhagen airport. This was where the IKEA museum team was meeting with the museum consultants.
In case you missed the news, IKEA is planning to build an IKEA museum in Älmhult, on the site of the first IKEA store by Ingvar Kamprad in 1958. I gate crashed their meeting and listened in on their plans for the building and exhibits. Of particular interest is the possibility of an IKEA hacking section in the museum. Woo! I like that. To me that means IKEA is beginning to see hacking as part of its brand’s evolution.
We had some “fika” (Swedish for coffee break) which I would come to realise in the next 2 days is very much part of the IKEA culture. There is always reason to stop, drink coffee and nibble cinnamon buns. I love fika!
|Happy together! The museum team. Me, second row, first from right. Lena, next to me.|
One of the reasons for the visit to the Malmö store, besides meeting the museum team, was to view the MANGSIDIG range. Not many IKEA stores carry this special range and I was privileged to see them. The MANGSIDIG range is a community project to help women in underdeveloped areas sell their wares and build a business. To encourage social entrepreneurship.
|Taking a closer look at one of the pillows from the MANGSIDIG range|
After touring the store, we had lunch. Oh. My. Meatballs! Confession, I have only eaten IKEA meatballs from Malaysia and seriously, never understood the fuss. If given a choice, I rather not eat at the IKEA Malaysia cafe. But here in Malmö (I would realise later, not just in Malmö) everything in the cafe tastes and looks way more appetising than those in IKEA Malaysia. No wilting salads and Gravad Lax that has seen too many days in the freezer. (Sorry, IKEA Malaysia. But tastebuds don’t lie.)
Enroute to Älmhult we made a quick stop at Lena’s home. We ooh and aahed at the IKEA furniture she collected over the years and then she showed us the piece in pride of place – the stool that Ingvar purportedly designed. The only, it seems. Sadly, not for IKEA and of course, no longer in production. It was inspired by cows. More precisely, the stool for milking a cow. Here it is. So cute.
|Ingvar’s milking stool. And Memphis the dog.|
Älmhult is everything they say it is. A little town that appears out of nowhere. Everywhere that’s anywhere in the town is walkable. I am not sure they even have a cinema. But hair salons, aplenty! Before I could contemplate a blow-dry, we checked in to the IKEA Hotel. It’s the catalogue in 3D. The rooms are modest. Nothing fancy or lavish. Cosy and strangely familiar, almost like bunking in at the home of a friend. And oh, all the rooms are decorated uniquely.
|IKEA Hotel lobby|
|IKEA Hotel cafe|
|Where I spent the night|
|Another room. This one’s more cheery|
Before dinner, we took a stroll through the IKEA “Through the Ages” exhibit, which is housed at basement of the hotel. This exhibit will form part of the museum when it opens in 2015. Ingvar started his empire selling matches and seeds and kept his stock in a tiny shed. It was only much later did he start selling furniture. He didn’t design or make them but he sure knew how to sell them.
|Entrance to the exhibit|
|How the IKEA logo has changed over the years|
|Ingvar’s merchandise … he didn’t start out selling furniture|
|An old IKEA set sold to Britta and Nisse Westholm. Read their story below.|
Dinner was a 10 mins walk to a charming French restaurant, Brasserie Goaroije. Marcus Engman, the design director from IKEA of Sweden joined us too. I had the salmon which was lovely but the mussels took the cake.
|Mussels to die for|
With a full and warm tummy, I snuggled under the sheets and slept like a baby. After all, it felt like home.
Photos: Katherine Law