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Ikea Thinks Movable Walls Can Solve Your Tiny Apartment Woes

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In the age of ever-shrinking apartments, furniture giant Ikea is trying to take transforming, space-saving apartments—an idea already popular with independent architects and designers—to the masses. According to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal, the Swedish retailer has been discreetly developing movable walls and sliding power sockets, features that would allow inhabitants to reshuffle their apartment layouts for greater flexibility and privacy. A movable wall in the living room, for example, can turn half of the space into a bedroom, and one in a bedroom can create a walk-in closet.

Over the last two years, the company has renovated a 1980s apartment in Malmö, Sweden to include the movable walls and sockets setup and invited various families to try it out. One father who participated in the trial with his three sons told WSJ the experimental unit "felt much bigger" than his own home, which is actually about 215-square-foot larger.

According to Mikael Ydholm, the company's head of research, the sliding walls could be incorporated more broadly, perhaps as part of Ikea's kitchens. These grand aspirations are, however, tempered by technical and logistical challenges—safety regulations, anyone? Ydholm estimates these new products won't appear in Ikea catalogs for another three years.

Ikea's research into transforming apartments is just one of many ways the company is trying to stay relevant and appeal to a wider population. From furniture with built-in wireless charging to partnerships with Dutch designer Piet Hein Eek and avant-garde fashion designers, Ikea has a lot on its plate. Earlier this year, company CEO Peter Agnefjall admitted that Ikea was slow to embrace e-commerce, which has taken the furniture world by storm. Stay tuned to see how the global flatpack king responds to the seemingly unabating tiny living trend.

· IKEA Tests Movable Walls for Cramped Homes [WSJ]
· What the Kitchen Will Look Like in 2025, According to Ikea [Curbed]
· In Stores Soon: Ikea's Gamechanging Furniture Line with Built-In Wireless Charging [Curbed]
· Witness the Transforming Feats of 15 Small, Adjustable Homes [Curbed]