They saw chairs into pieces, glue wallpaper to brand new dressers and create lamps from kitchen equipment: Ikea-Hackers are big fans of Ikea, but they do not share the idea of living like everybody else. They take Ikea’s globally identical mass production furniture and turn it into something unique in looks and even function.

The most beautiful ideas for modifying Ikea products can be found on the blog ikeahackers.net.

"There are many reasons why Ikea hackers modify things," says blog founder Jules Yap.

"Usually they’re looking for solutions for their home. But they don’t get exactly what they need and so they change standard furniture into something that suits them."

An example: a blogger needed to partition a room and used a regular wardrobe door. "Others modify standard furniture into something individual because they don’t want something that’s mass produced," says Yap.

The desire for individualisation has also been recognised by manufacturers. "In the past, a sofa had five different fabrics - and that was it," explains Ursula Geismann, spokeswoman of the German Furniture Industries Association."

Today, there is a basic model and then you may choose the size of the backrest, seat cushion depth and fixed or flexible arms. Then you may want to be able to see the feet or not. If yes, which material are they made from?"

And only then are fabric, pattern and the quantity of cushions selected. Modifications like that satisfy the customers’ need for individualisation. If you have exclusive chinaware to show, then a glass cabinet will find its place in the system. If you own a lot of CDs, more shelves can be integrated, explains Geismann.

But especially it’s younger buyers who want more - they want furniture that fits their individual taste. Those who don’t want to or cannot use needle and yarn or hammer and saw can try the internet.

There is a large variety of covers for chairs and sofas on offer, some of which are limited in number. So in the end a standard sofa won’t look like anybody else’s.

Trend analyst Nicolette Nauman from the Frankfurt Trade Fair says the design industry is taking note of the need for more individualisation. For quite some time now she has observed that more and more companies are offering product additions to the big names in the industry.

According to a report prepared for the Tendence interior design fair in Frankfurt, younger people like to modify furniture because they often cannot afford to buy designer pieces. Things are replaced quickly and should be as flexible as possible. Interior accessories serve this need or systems with flexible and combinable shelves.

"Furniture should avoid the impression of being mass produced.

Pieces should be able to be used and combined in an individualistic way," says the report.

Bearing that in mind, the interior design industry should strive to cater to the trend of more individualism. This can be turned into reality in different ways in apartments, explains Peter Wippermann, a professor and founder of the Trend Buero in Hamburg.

He says an object from the flea market or an heirloom combined with new furniture can create a fresh style of living.

"And accessories can be used to change the living room in harmony with the seasons."

The West Australian

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