Ikea Israel developed a range of add-ons that people with disabilities can attach to their existing Ikea furniture to make it work better for them.
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Physical disabilities change the way people can interact with furniture. Someone with cerebral palsy, for example, may find it more difficult to get up if they’re sat on a low sofa or have trouble opening a cupboard door.
So the Swedish flatpack furniture giant worked with Milbat and Access Israel, two NGOs that specialise in helping disabled people get a better quality of life, and McCann Tel Aviv to find a way to make its products more accessible.
Rather than redesigning existing products, and expecting disabled people to repurchase them, Ikea designed 13 add-ons for its most popular items, like bigger handles to attach to cupboards and elevating legs for sofas (to make them easier to get up from).
The ThisAbles products could be tested in the Tel Aviv Ikea store (in a newly created ‘accessible section’) and the schematics can be downloaded for free from the campaign website and 3D-printed at home or anywhere that’s convenient. Visitors to the website can also watch videos about individual items (how they work and what problem they solve) and suggest new add-on designs that would help make other Ikea products more accessible.
RESULTS / According to the case study, the ThisAbles products were downloaded in 127 countries. The brand saw a 37% increase in the number of products sold vs. the previous year and revenue for the products that had add- on features grew by 33%.
INSIGHTS / As well as working with two NGOs on the project, Ikea also hosted a hackathon in its Tel Aviv store. Product engineers and people with a variety of disabilities worked together to assess how different items could be adjusted to better suit their needs.
In addition to bringing its disabled audience into the design process, Ikea has also considered how distribution could be made more inclusive and affordable. Often making products or buildings accessible to disabled people is considered an unnecessary expense.
By making these add-ons easily downloadable – and making it free to do so – Ikea is communicating that it doesn’t see it as a financial burden to create these things but a necessity. It also echoes the brand’s long-standing mission to ‘create a better everyday for the many people’.