Ikea has been a mainstay in our homes for pretty much our entire adult lives. The unbeatable prices are reason enough to keep coming back, but above all, the brand just seems to get us — and all the struggles that come with living in a small space. Its products are streamlined, flexible, and multi-functional, bringing all kinds of possibilities to even the tiniest of city apartments.
So, just how exactly does Ikea do it? To say that the Swedish brand keeps its ears to the ground would be an understatement: Every year, the brand embarks on an extensive project to figure out the top desires and pain points of its customers. In-home interviews are conducted in 22 countries around the world, on top of surveying over 22,000 people online. Unsurprisingly, limited square footage is an issue that comes up a lot.
"Our customers are common people and many of them have a thin wallet: That often means they live in a small space," says Johanna Jelinek, a designer at Ikea. "With rapid urbanization everywhere and more and more people living in shared homes, this has always been on our minds in the process of creating a new product."
The Life At Home Report, a publication detailing the findings, is compiled to inform the product development team on the top problems that need to be addressed by the new designs. At the launch event for the report at the Ikea design headquarters in Älmhult, Sweden, I sat down with Jelinek to discuss everything small-space related. Since the entire Ikea collection is 9,500-products strong, the designer — who's been with the company since 2002 — hand-picked 10 furniture pieces that would work magic in a cramped home.
Click through for her list of top products that can save you tons of space — and the design anecdotes behind them.
Editor's Note: Travel and accommodation to Älmhult, Sweden were provided by Ikea for the purpose of writing this story.