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Ikea Designers Find Inspiration in 'Home Visits to Real People'

Ikea's Head of Design Marcus Engman recently sat down with Dezeen to discuss how the Swedish furniture giant comes up with the 2,000 new designs that it releases each year. "We work in a very different way to how everyone else is working," Engman declares, a statement that actually seems to be kinda true. Turns out, Engman and his small team of just 20 in-house designers (there are around a hundred more contract designers) spend a lot of time knocking on doors around the world—Ikea has 351 stores in 46 countries—to find out the "real needs" of "real people."

1) Far from random, delightful little field trips, the home visits are actually an integral part of the design process. ""We always – and this is not a cliché – start the product development in people's homes," Engman tells Dezeen. He often tacks on a home visit after giving a speech in a foreign land.
2) His father was once the Head of Design at Ikea too. " I was more of less brought up within Ikea. I started out at Ikea when I was 15 years old," Engman says.
3) He believes that the worldwide popularity of Ikea is due to the fact that the "very simple and very straightforward" designs are "blendable with a lot of different things. You could put those pieces in an Indian home at it would look good."
4) But Swedes have not always been effortlessly chic. Engman traces the origins of minimalist Scandinavian design to the country's "scarcity of materials, scarcity of ways of producing."
5) The design team necessarily spends a lot of time thinking about how efficiently their items can be shipped. "One centimeter there could maybe mean 10 euros in the end on each and every product," he says.
6) Ikea will soon launch furniture with induction-charging capabilities. By April, your nightstand or coffee table could also wirelessly charge your phone.

· "I want to bring the surprise back to Ikea," says head of design [Dezeen]
· All Ikea coverage [Curbed National]