Today, Ikea is releasing a new product line designed to prevent deadly furniture accidents. Ikea is unveiling the new dressers, which come with built-in safety features, after the company recalled 29 million dressers in 2016 and again in 2017 following the deaths of eight toddlers. The children were crushed when Ikea’s furniture tipped over on them. One of the deadly designs remains on the market today.
The new product line, called Glesvar, includes three types of dressers. The first has an interlocking method similar to what you find in many filing cabinets: If you open one drawer, the dresser prevents you from opening any of the other drawers at the same time. This interlocking mechanism remains until the consumer has properly attached the dresser to the wall, so that there’s no chance of tip-over.
The second Glesvar dresser is similar to the first but more extreme: It won’t let you open any of the dresser’s drawers until you’ve secured it to the wall. The third design has only two legs and must be affixed to the wall completely, since the wall acts as a primary support for the dresser.
For the time being, only the first dresser will be sold in the United States (as well as Germany and the U.K.). It’s the only design that is compliant with a newly proposed update to a voluntary safety standard that requires freestanding dressers be structurally sound and not tip over if a 60-pound weight is attached to any of their open drawers (the proposal would make the existing standard upheld by the safety standards organization ASTM International more rigorous).
For Nancy Cowles, the executive director of the nonprofit Kids in Danger and a longtime advocate for child-safe consumer products, the interlocking feature will help with many of the scenarios in which dressers kill children, including if a child tries to pull out multiple drawers to climb up a dresser. It will also prevent a situation where a child weighs down one drawer, the dresser starts to tip, and more drawers fall out, pulling the furniture down even faster. “We think that’s a great design that more companies should do,” Cowles says.
However, she is waiting to see how Ikea markets and sells the new design, which will go on sale in December 2019. “Safety as an option is not a big seller,” she says, pointing out that many people will still buy the cheapest option and plan to anchor it to the wall, and many more won’t care about anchoring at all. Ikea says the Glesvar dresser with the interlocking feature will cost $122, putting it squarely in the middle of the company’s dresser collection when it comes to price (the Hemnes dresser, which killed a toddler in 2017 and has yet to be recalled, costs $179).
The biggest test will be if Ikea incorporates the interlocking design into the rest of its product line–for now, it’s specific to only this dresser and will be on sale for a limited time so that the company can learn about how people use it.
“The goal of the limited sale is to gain further customer insight, create awareness, and encourage other companies to adopt similar solutions,” Vladimir Brajkovic, range and product engineering manager for Ikea of Sweden, says via email. “The limited-edition sales and subsequent follow-up will help Ikea explore customer interaction with these new safety innovations for this type of furniture.”
Ikea will start selling the Glesvar interlock dresser in more markets in 2020.