‘Design for Masses’, a project done over a course of 8 weeks on an exchange semester to the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam, Netherlands aimed at understanding the patterns of mass production and mass consumption. In today’s context where terms like sustainability and circular economy establish themselves as a pivotal part of any design conversation, how do we analyse the ongoing large scale consumption and intervene for the better.
IKEA has served over 871 million customers with stores in around 29 countries in the year 2017.
IKEA makes sure to portray itself as a company that is very conscious about the environment and also accessible to everyone. The concept of Democratic Design has been adopted by IKEA to stand out from the rest of the companies. Democratic design believes in quality, form, function, low prices and sustainability.
Sara Kristoffersson's critical study of the company in IKEA: A Cultural History says, 'In IKEA’s vocabulary, democracy is a matter of low prices and increased opportunities for consumption. But are low prices are always beneficial? Is it possible that extremely low prices stimulate people to over consume. With firms like IKEA consumption of furniture and domestic items has made huge increases. Furniture is bought and discarded at a rapid rate. An this is hardly a question of life’s necessities but, rather, of exchanging new items for the old ones at brief intervals. The product has a short life and gives rise to questions of sustainability and the environment. And the low prices may actually be an illusion. For the cheap products are rapidly replaced by other cheap products and so the final result may not be as cheap as imagined.'
The application, prototyped on Adobe Xd, is a rental service for IKEA that is facilitates easy return of products with an option to add some graphics to the product before returning it to IKEA for the next customer to use. All of these products then form a range of products that the customer can select from. These products are aimed at making people realise the rising probelm of over-consumption.
Process to rent a simple product
Every user has an account through which they can keep a record of their transactions. The customers are provided a cash back voucher for every item that they opt to return. They also have an option to view the other users that may have used a product before, this tends to create a community around the product.
Process to return a product you own
While the process of returning the product, the user has these options to add stickers and other graphic elements to the product, giving it more value and making it a better experience for the next user. The user can go to the nearest IKEA center to proceed with this procedure.
Promotional Posters: Concept of stories that connect people.