The Ikea Home Smart product line is an honoree in the 2017 Innovation By Design Awards, Fast Company‘s annual celebration of the best ideas in design. See the rest of the winners, finalists, and honorable mentions here.
Swedish furniture and lifestyle brand Ikea is extending its attractive-yet-affordable design aesthetic to technology. In April, the company launched Wi-Fi– and remote-controlled LED bulbs that allow people to create the right ambience for different activities with a single fixture. They’re dimmable, motion-sensor responsive, and color-changeable. And since most of us are accustomed to using a switch—not an app—to turn lights on and off, Ikea also designed a wireless remote control that can be mounted anywhere. (The $20 starter kit includes the bulb and remote, and a mobile app helps users program settings.) While smart lighting has been on the market for years, it’s been slow to catch on due to price and the perception that it’s complicated to operate. Ikea’s user-centered design, plus the brand’s scale—it has 390 stores in 48 countries—could be the determining factor in widespread adoption. Plus, the system is now compatible with Apple’s HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, and Google Home.
Ikea spent three years interviewing prospective customers and learned that living spaces are more flexible than ever—plus people spend more time at home. “Think about all the things you do on your dining table,” says Rebecca Töreman, product developer for Ikea’s Home Smart range. “If you’re doing homework, maybe you want to have cooler light for focusing. If you’re having a family meal, you want something warmer for a cozy atmosphere.” Ikea simplified the color and brightness options into situational language—there are Everyday, Focus, and Relax modes—but also offers manual control. The company sees more connected-home products in its future. “Start simple with the things that the customer can relate to, and that’s lighting,” Töreman says.