Ikea has spent "half a decade" perfecting a "cheap and sensible" kitchen, reports Jens Hansegard in The Wall Street Journal (10/15/13). "It’s five years of work into finding ways to engineer cost out of the system, to improve the functionality," says Peter Agnefjall, Ikea’s new chief executive. Known as the Metod (or in English, Method) kitchen, the "goal is to achieve ‘democratic design’ … that will work in homes whether they are located in Beijing, Madrid or Topeka." The concept is central to Ikea’s growth "in emerging markets such as China and Russia."
While its design is "minimalist," Metod "packs enormous complexity into a kitchen," and "consists of 1,1100 different components" distilled "into a cheap, green and easily shippable package … Ikea also avoids buying pre-fabricated solutions from outside sources" and to save costs "even created its own LED lighting system to illuminate one of its kitchen drawers." To get at customer insights, a team of Ikea researchers "visits thousands of homes annually and compiles reports from trend spotters and experts that look as far as a decade into the future."
Among the resulting changes are the elimination of "deep cupboards with doors," and the development of "pot drawers and other pullout features." Because "kitchens are becoming a showcase for homeowners," the idea is "to show off our pots and pans," according to Ikea creative director Mia Lundstrom. She says today’s kitchens are "the new living room." Ikea "ships about one million kitchens a year, costing as little as $3,000." "We have such a big influence," says Ikea research manager Mikael Ydoholm. "We can actually, to some extent, decide what the future will be like."