CLOSE
Sean Hobson, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Sean Hobson, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Experts Explain How IKEA Instruction Manuals Are Designed

Sean Hobson, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Sean Hobson, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Building a piece of flat-packed furniture from IKEA can be an emotional rollercoaster. It is all worth it in the end, but the process can often seem like cruel and unusual torture by design. In a recent interview with Fast Company, IKEA's deputy packaging manager Allan Dickner admits that the instruction manuals are challenging, but, believe it or not, things could be a lot worse.

"We had one furniture piece, a type of wardrobe, which originally had over 400 fittings and screws to hold it together," Dickner told FastCo, explaining that packaging engineers are responsible for constructing early versions of the retailer's furniture before they settle on an "optimized" design. The "ready-to-assemble" model is one way that IKEA is able to offer its products at such affordable prices, but Dickner says that it's about finding a middle ground. "When it takes someone five hours to build it, you can ask yourself: have you gone too far with the flat packing? It’s always about finding a balance between ease of assembly and optimizing the packaging."

Dickner also explained that the engineers at IKEA use "proven solutions" as a starting point. The "generalized templates" are altered based on the unique specifications of the new product. They are also "algorithmically optimized," and are designed with structures like elevators and staircases in mind.

The instructions are made using various resources, including "construction drawings, digital snapshots, 3D models, and videos of test assemblies." According to Jan Fredlund, a designer who works on these manuals, the test assembly phase is key. The "communicators" who design the instructions are tasked with constructing the pieces for themselves to find points where others may be confused and make mistakes.

[h/t: FastCo]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Dan Bell
arrow
Design
A Cartographer Is Mapping All of the UK’s National Parks, J.R.R. Tolkien-Style
Peak District National Park
Peak District National Park
Dan Bell

Cartographer Dan Bell makes national parks into fantasy lands. Bell, who lives near Lake District National Park in England, is currently on a mission to draw every national park in the UK in the style of the maps in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Kottke.org reports.

The project began in September 2017, when Bell posted his own hand-drawn version of a Middle Earth map online. He received such a positive response that he decided to apply the fantasy style to real world locations. He has completed 11 out of the UK’s 15 parks so far. Once he finishes, he hopes to tackle the U.S. National Park system, too. (He already has Yellowstone National Park down.)

Bell has done various other maps in the same style, including ones for London and Game of Thrones’s Westeros, and he commissions, in case you have your own special locale that could use the Tolkien treatment. Check out a few of his park maps below.

A close-up of a map for Peak District National Park
Peak District National Park in central England
Dan Bell

A black-and-white illustration of Cairngorms National Park in the style of a 'Lord of the Rings' map.
Cairngorms National Park in Scotland
Dan Bell

A black-and-white illustration of Lake District National Park in the style of a 'Lord of the Rings' map.
Lake District National Park in England
Dan Bell

You can buy prints of the maps here.

[h/t Kottke.org]

All images by Dan Bell

nextArticle.image_alt|e
The North Face
arrow
Design
The North Face's New Geodesic Dome Tent Will Protect You in 60 mph Wind
The North Face
The North Face

You can find camping tents designed for easy set-up, large crowds, and sustainability, but when it comes to strength, there’s only so much abuse a foldable structure can take. Now, The North Face is pushing the limits of tent durability with a reimagined design. According to inhabitat, the Geodome 4 relies on its distinctive geodesic shape to survive wind gusts approaching hurricane strength.

Instead of the classic arching tent structure, the Geodome balloons outward like a globe. It owes its unique design to the five main poles and one equator pole that hold it in place. Packed up, the gear weighs just over 24 pounds, making it a practical option for car campers and four-season adventurers. When it’s erected, campers have floor space measuring roughly 7 feet by 7.5 feet, enough to sleep four people, and 6 feet and 9 inches of space from ground to ceiling if they want to stand. Hooks attached to the top create a system for gear storage.

While it works in mild conditions, the tent should really appeal to campers who like to trek through harsher weather. Geodesic domes are formed from interlocking triangles. A triangle’s fixed angles make it one of the strongest shapes in engineering, and when used in domes, triangles lend this strength to the overall structure. In the case of the tent, this means that the dome will maintain its form in winds reaching speeds of 60 mph. Meanwhile, the double-layered, water-resistant exterior keeps campers dry as they wait out the storm.

The Geodome 4 is set to sell for $1635 when it goes on sale in Japan this March. In the meantime, outdoorsy types in the U.S. will just have to wait until the innovative product expands to international markets.

[h/t inhabitat]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios