Many of Ikea’s most enticing purchases have nothing to do with couches, tables, or other big-ticket furniture. It’s the budget-friendly accessories—such as lamps, cooking tools, and bathroom items—that can really transform your home into a living Ikea catalog.
But just because Ikea makes a bajillion of something doesn’t mean these objects can’t be improved. Case in point, when designer Ádám Miklósi fielded complaints from his girlfriend about her Enudden soap dish, which submerged her bar of soap in water all day until it was a gross putty, he designed a 3D-printed plastic grill that could fit on top to keep it dry. And then he kept fixing Ikea products inside his own home as a yearlong hobby—the results of which will soon be free, 3D-printable upgrades to six different Ikea products that you can soon download and print yourself.
“My attitude was not [about] finding failures in Ikea’s products, but identifying problems I’m having while using them [around the house],” says Miklósi. “It took about one year of observation and development. I didn’t push it; I just allowed myself to realize some issues I’m facing while using the Ikea products.”
Miklósi realized that his shirts slid down Ikea’s Stajlig hanger, ending up folded and creased even when hung. So he created snap-on shoulder pads to keep the shirt’s shoulder form in place. He noticed that the bare bulb of his Nävlinge lamp was sometimes shining right into his eyes, so he designed a slip-on lampshade. When grating cheese on his Chosigt grater—a flat, circular plane—he noticed his cheese would sometimes fly off the side. So he built a lip around the edge to catch it.
The ideas all seem promising as they address the sorts of hidden pain points of industrial design. And in a world full of countless Ikea hacks—most of which are more about aesthetics than functional updates—this is a refreshing approach to rethinking Ikea’s design.
But look at these bright blue plastic upgrades on Ikea’s white objects, and you’ll see there’s a catch: They add a lot more material to Ikea’s pared-back products during a time when Ikea has promised to go climate positive by 2030.
As the largest furniture manufacturer in the world, adding an extra lip of plastic to an object has real environmental repercussions—these UX upgrades come at a tangible material cost and will have a footprint long after the product is done being used. Which is by no means a critique of Miklósi’s clever work, but an observation: The definition of good design is a moving target in a world where our environment is an even bigger challenge than day-to-day domestic discomforts.
If you are interested in downloading these Ikea upgrades for yourself, you can follow Miklósi’s project here.