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Ikea Delaktig sofa with parts in aluminium, design Tom Dixon
Ikea Delaktig sofa with parts in aluminium, design Tom Dixon

Adapting aluminium to add functions you do not see in IKEA DELAKTIG

Tom Dixon and IKEA wanted an open-source product that could meet democratic design principles, and they had an idea what they wanted it to look like. This put some high technical demands on the extruded profiles for DELAKTIG.

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The idea with DELAKTIG is to let customers in a way design their own furniture. Modern living. They talked about “sofabed” typology and “bedsofa” typology. They also had a pretty good idea that aluminium would be the right material for the base, because it is light and strong and it has a nice surface that is aesthetic.

With DELAKTIG, it was important for us to come up with solutions that offered possibilities. Functions built into the platform that could be used, or not. Besides that, the main product would still have to meet Tom Dixon’s design scheme and satisfy IKEA’s demands – that it would last, that it would stand, those things.


DELAKTIG is hackable. This means the customer can take it, disassemble it, add some hang-on products – made by either IKEA or somebody else – and then use it in another way. One of the technical challenges in such a case is making sure the product is safe to use as-is, in addition to acting as an open platform where it also would be safe to use in other ways.

Aluminium is the right material for DELAKTIG for a lot of reasons. In this case, with the open-source concept, you utilize its flexibility, where you can build the functions that you need into the profile. And where you make sure these additional functions fit into the basic design.

As an example, we put in screw pockets that are ready for standard nuts, that can be used for other hang-on products. Underneath the base profile, there are grooves. Normally, this would be used for a specially designed LED lamp for the frame. But here, you can use them to fix anything. Hangers, wheels. Only your imagination limits your ideas.

When they came up with the idea of DELAKTIG, Tom Dixon (pictured below, left) and IKEA challenged design students all around the world to come up with ideas on how to use the sofa frame in other ways. We worked it into the concept.

a group of people sitting around a table

Democratic design

I’d like to add some words about product design, and how we worked with IKEA’s “democractic design” concept for DELAKTIG. The concept is about making good design available to many people. This is how we satisfied the five points:

  • Form. Tom Dixon used the aluminium to get the forms on the couch to accentuate the aluminium
  • Function. With the different combinations that you get with DELAKTIG, you get extremely functional furniture that, with the built-in technical subtleties, offers features that can be used as needed
  • Quality. The aluminium frame holds high quality and ensures the high strain rates in IKEA’s requirements
  • Sustainability. The way the construction is put together, customers can take it apart easily and then recycle the frame at the end of its life-cycle. In addition, a high proportion of recycled aluminium is used in the product
  • Low price. With IKEA’s high volumes, we adapt the production process to optimize cost efficiency. This enables IKEA to sell Tom Dixon-designed products at IKEA prices

This article was originally published in March 2020.

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