You probably can't pronounce their names, but if you're a college student furnishing your very first apartment, you've probably seen them before. In fact, you've probably built some. I'm talking about Ikea furniture.
Inexpensive yet modern-looking, Ikea has been a go-to place for thousands of people to furnish their homes without breaking the bank. But have you ever wondered who designs all this furniture in the first place?
Ilse Crawford is the British interior designer who has designed the SINNERLIG collection, comprised of more than 30 furniture pieces, categorized into working, dining and lounging.
If there is anything that Crawford places above all else in creating her spaces and products, it is the human experience. "The basis of the collection," Crawford said, "was to bring emotions values into that [mass manufacturing] system and come out with products that are not only sustainable but people really love." Crawford was not motivated extrinsically with the success and reach of product development and a big name like Ikea, but intrinsically motivated by the desire to develop experience for the owners of this furniture.
You can see this in the products she designs. Her team decided to use cork for the tables and chairs to utilize sustainable materials. The stoneware used a Vietnamese dip-dye process-- making each and every product unique. Individuals could choose which dip-dye design they liked to fit their individual likes. The process of designing and using mass manufacturing to produce them took 3 years.
On the subject of designing tables, she calls the measuring tape the most simple, yet important tool. A measurement as small as three inches could mean the difference between confrontation and conversation. "Tables can be metaphors for power and confrontation; the conference table is wide and long and the one at the top is the one that pulls the strings," she says. She prefers informal, oval tables that allow more people to join in on the conversation.
Ilse prides itself on not just developing products, but also developing an experience-- which is why she has also been asked to redesign Ikea's restaurants over the next ten years. Her goal is to have the design change how families, especially children, think about their food choices and the effect these choices may have in the future.
"Design is a tool to enhance our humanity. It's a frame for life," she says. And so she may be framing the way that we experience spaces, from the Ikea restaurants to our very own homes.
“Abstract: The Art of Design, Interior Design: Ilse Crawford”. Dir. Elizabeth Chai Vsarahelyi, Morgan Neville. Radical Media, 2017. Netflix. Web. 18 April 2017.