advertisement
advertisement

Teenage Engineering’s hotly anticipated Ikea collection just got even better

A long-awaited collaboration between Ikea and Teenage Engineering is out now. And Teenage Engineering wants to celebrate it by questioning the very nature of industrial design.

The line was two years in the works, but this month, the Frekvens (or “frequency”) line has finally hit Ikea stores in the United States. Born from Teenage Engineering, the U.K. company known for creating lauded electronic music equipment, it’s a collection of modular speakers, lights, tripods, and replacement cases that let you mix and match your own, semiportable party.

advertisement
advertisement

Post-release, Teenage Engineering has taken the project a step further: It’s launched a collection of free accessories to the line that you can 3D-print at home, then attach with nothing more than some screws and a rubber mallet.

[Photo: Teenage Engineering]

The add-ons offer a 50/50 mix of quirk and function. The spotlight gets a set of wheels to roll like a cannon, or a set of panels that allow it to sit on the ground like a giant, sculptural jack—the light becomes a statement piece. The otherwise black rectangular speakers and subwoofer, intended for a bookshelf, get various handles and even a little holder for your phone or pencils. This turns the speakers into something more akin to a toolbox or boombox that can be tossed into a vehicle or moved easily around your house.

And finally, the strangest—most absurd, but most charming of the prints—lets you add a purse-like handle to a small speaker, along with a holder for your coffee. This turns the speaker into something like a UE Boom crossed with a bag, crossed with a drink caddy from Starbucks.

[Photo: Teenage Engineering]

I’m not sure anyone will actually print and use this drink caddy in real life. And truth be told, how many of us have 3D printers, and the proper collection of Bauhaus-colored printing filaments, to bring these hacks to life? Just about no one is actually going to use these.

Still, the offer seems like a landmark for all sorts of reasons. It demonstrates Ikea’s growing acceptance, and even promotion, of people hacking its furniture and accessories. It shows Ikea continues to think about 3D printing to customize products, as the company first teased in 2018 with this super-ergonomic chair, scanned to fit your posterior. And finally, this Teenage Engineering experiment makes a convincing argument for the future of industrial design, in which automated manufacturing could allow us to turn stock items into bespoke solutions, tailored specifically for our own use cases.

The convergence of 3D printing and product customization should be a tired premise in a world where additive manufacturing didn’t revolutionize consumerism as we know it. But in the hands of Ikea, the world’s largest furniture retailer, and Teenage Engineering, the world’s most idiosyncratic instrument maker, the premise feels fully new again.

advertisement
advertisement

About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company who has written about design, technology, and culture for almost 15 years. His work has appeared at Gizmodo, Kotaku, PopMech, PopSci, Esquire, American Photo and Lucky Peach

More