Sunday, July 19, 2009

An open letter to IKEA

Dear IKEA,

I really do love IKEA, even though most of the products I've bought over the years have been poorly designed rubbish that is generally difficult to build and often ends up in the bin the next I move house.

To your credit, the majority of stupid crap you peddle is been outweighed by a small number of well designed pieces of furniture that make it worth wasting my Saturday afternoon stuck behind soccer Mums, screaming children and honeymooners.

That was, until, you quietly discontinued the FROSTA.
In case you didn't know it, the FROSTA stool (above) was designed by Gillis Lundgren, the Draughtsman credited with inventing flat packed furniture. Legend has it Lundgren bought a table and couldn't fit it in his car, so he broke the legs off, and reassembled when he got home. He discussed this with his employer - IKEA - and flat pack furniture was born.

Lundgren based the design of the FROSTA on the Alvar Aalto designed 'Stool 60' (below). The classic 'Stool 60' was designed in 1933 - over 75 years ago.
An original 'Stool 60' can set you back more than $300 a pop. And a reproduction will cost you almost as much ($283 + GST) - a far cry from the affordable $19.95 a FROSTA stool cost at IKEA in Australia. Which begs the question - why would IKEA discontinue an inexpensive alternative to an expensive piece of popular, classic furniture design?

I don't know exactly what possessed you to stop producing this easy to build, multi-purpose and arguably, safe household item - but I would like to. Do you know why? If so, feel free to reply.

I can understand if an item is unsafe, like the FEMTON lamp (below), it would be recalled and discontinued. The FEMTON lamp was recalled last year because the clamp that attaches the lamp to a surface was found to be unsafe. For example, if you attach your FEMTON to a bedhead and the clamp failed, the lamp might fall on your bed and your bed might catch on fire; your house might burn down; and you might die.
The point I'm trying to make is that I can understand cancelling an item that might burn a house down. But dicontinuing an unthreatening wooden stool in Australia (the FROSTA is still readily available in the USA and many other countries) seems absurd, especially when 'Stool 60' is still readily available in here.

So perhaps then, the FROSTA was an expensive item to produce. And despite IKEA's profit expected to top 21.5 billion Euros this fiscal year and IKEA deciding to cut more than 5,000 staff worldwide, the FROSTA just had to go.

It's a shame you had to get rid of such a useful piece. You could have discontinued something like the IKEA PS GULLHOLMEN (below). I know the IKEA PS GULLHOLMEN is a chair (it's listed as a rocking chair on your website), but I'm not sure how to sit on it. Not to mention it's made of ratten, which is probably the most scratchy, nasty substance you could ever make a sitting implement out of. And don't even get me started on how dangerous this object could potentially be.
Or the REGOLIT (above) - a lamp that pays hideous homage to the classic Arco Floor Lamp (below) designed by Achille Castiglioni for Flos in 1962. It's insulting enough that lots of people spend lots of money buying fake Arco Floor Lamp reproductions - which makes it enough more insulting to imagine anyone would ever waste their money buying a REGOLIT.
As I said in the beginning, I really do love IKEA. But it would be nice if you let your legions of customers know if you're going to discontinue an item, instead of getting a little surprise when the item disappears from your website and off the shelves. Maybe you think that if you dazzle us with lots of new pieces of rubbish furniture, we won't notice that the good pieces have gone missing. Unfortunately for you, some of us are not so naive.

On behalf of everyone who appreciates IKEA's flailing commitment to inexpensive alternatives to design classics and delivering good design to the masses, I implore you. Bring back the FROSTA.

Yours Sincerely,
Chi Chi Ryan

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