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Ikea wants you to repurpose its products, and these instructions tell you exactly how to do it

Go ahead, turn that cabinet into a beehive.

Ikea wants you to repurpose its products, and these instructions tell you exactly how to do it
[Images: rraya/iStock, Ikea]
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Ikea’s furniture assembly instructions are the stuff of legend. And in recent years, the company has used them to get even more creative, whether illustrating how its rugs can be used to create capes, a la Game of Thrones, or bulking up its sustainability bonafides by showing consumers how to take its furniture apart.

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Now the brand’s Canadian arm has created instruction manuals for repurposing some of its products for a variety of different uses. “Repurposeful Instructions” shows how to upcycle furniture and other items that may otherwise be tossed to the curb. The guides provide directions for things beginning projects like turning a Valdoft candle holder into a planter, to an intermediate project like making Frakta bags into a hanging garden, to truly advanced moves like transforming an Ivar cabinet into a beehive.

This is just the latest move by the Swedish retailer to focus its marketing on how we can all live more responsibly with its products, which aren’t known for being particularly well-made or long-lasting. In June, Ikea Norway launched “The Trash Collection,” which gave broken and discarded Ikea furniture the catalog treatment, in order to how its products can be reused to cut down on waste.

It’s all in line with Ikea’s commitment to become fully circular by 2030, which requires designing products using only renewable, recycled, and recyclable materials; and eliminating waste.

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[Images: Ikea]
In its press release, the company said, “We really believe in the power of small, sustainable acts that people can take in their daily lives.” These explicit instruction-based efforts feel more effective to that end than some of its more recent marketing fluff, like an ad Ikea launched in January that depicted a giant meteor made of trash, where the only way to stop it was for people to change their lifestyle habits. Or in May when the brand released a spot about a little robot trying to save the planet by cleaning up things like plastic bags and a toxic oil spill. Both are cute, but ultimately much less useful than some IRL step-by-steps to actually help us out. Creative utility FTW.

About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity.

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