Good­bye to the Allen key

Flat-pack fur­ni­ture that just clicks

Evening Standard - West End Final Extra - ES Homes and Property - - Front Page - Bar­bara Chan­dler

RENTERS re­joice. Ikea fur­ni­ture now has a wedge dowel that makes it quicker and eas­ier to as­sem­ble and take apart — without an Allen key in sight. The news comes as a three-part BBC 2 se­ries launched last night. Flat­pack Em­pire takes a be­hind-the-scenes look at the suc­cess of the Swedi­ish fur­ni­ture gi­ant, which opened its first UK store 30 years ago.

Ikea’s dowel looks like a tim­ber screw. Its milled, pre­ci­sion- cut grooves fit snugly into pre-drilled holes in, for ex­am­ple, the back of a table­top. It’s a click-fit sys­tem, so you don’t need any tools, and it is said to cut assem­bly times by 50 to 80 per cent.

It is al­ready be­ing used for the Eket small ta­ble, Regis­sör cab­i­nets and the

Lis­abo ta­ble and stool. Ar­riv­ing in April is Ikea’s ver­sa­tile Platsa click­to­gether wardrobe sys­tem.

CLICK-TO­GETHER SO­FAS

The com­pany says the new joint means you can dis­man­tle fur­ni­ture eas­ily and re­assem­ble it some­where else. “Ev­ery­one from solo renters to fam­i­lies needs fur­ni­ture that is flex­i­ble and por­ta­ble,” says Ikea creative leader Jim Futcher.

Ikea also has a big­ger trick up its sleeve. Just ar­rived in store is an am­bi­tious sofa sys­tem called De­lak­tig — mean­ing “in­volve­ment” in Swedish — de­scribed as the com­pany’s “most chal­leng­ing yet”. De­signed with Lon­don’s Tom Dixon Stu­dio and 75 de­sign stu­dents, in a kit of 25 parts, it has an alu­minium frame and tubu­lar legs that click to­gether, with screws only to hold them rigid. You then click on what­ever parts you wish — back­rests, and/or side arms, small ta­bles, light­ing and so on.

Ba­sic De­lak­tig is af­ford­able, and supremely ver­sa­tile to suit change of use in a room. Prices start from £55 for an arm­rest to £405 for a three-seater “plat­form”.

THE QUAL­ITY’S THERE

In­dus­try ex­perts say the sav­ings made by flat-pack fur­ni­ture do not come from lower pro­duc­tion costs but by dra­mat­i­cally re­duc­ing the price of trans­port and ware­hous­ing.

“Peo­ple think flat pack means in­fe­rior fur­ni­ture,” says Matthew Long, se­nior fur­ni­ture and up­hol­stery de­signer for Habi­tat. “But qual­ity fur­ni­ture can also come in de­signs that are easy and quick to put to­gether and take apart.” His new light­weight Na­dia bed, priced £550, is hand­made from In­done­sian rat­tan and comes in four pieces that are held to­gether by sim­ple clips.

The Hold­ing Com­pany sells a chrome-framed stor­age sys­tem that is su­per-easy to as­sem­ble. Visit the­hold­ing­com­pany.co.uk. From £35 at Ar­gos, find fab­ric wardrobes with can­vas rollup covers over slot-to­gether frames.

Or con­sider fur­ni­ture that folds flat for stor­age and trans­port. New on the mar­ket is FoldS­mart’s fold­ing wardrobe sys­tem, with a no-frills de­sign in sev­eral fin­ishes — visit folds­mart.co. uk. Pieces sim­ply un­fold with slot-in back and clip-on hinged doors, and can be as­sem­bled “in min­utes”, it is claimed. A sin­gle wardrobe unit 40cm wide costs £234. Fi­nally, the Muji fold­able light­weight oak ve­neer ta­ble is ar­riv­ing at the end of the month, in two sizes, £250 and £295. See muji.eu for more.

Tak­ing the “flat” out of flat pack: Wool­wich-based RCA grad­u­ate Nick Raw­cliffe’s sculp­tural, er­gonomic Tu­pac chair costs £249 and comes in 18 parts, pre­ci­sion-milled from birch ply, that sim­ply slot to­gether and can be taken apart eas­ily. Other pieces...

No sweat: left, the two-seater Juno mod­u­lar sofa, priced £649, is easy to move around and ar­rives with you fully as­sem­bled. Ex­tra pieces cost £229-£249. From made.com

Smart stor­age: fold-flat wardrobes sim­ply un­fold in situ. From £234 (folds­mart.co.uk; 020 7043 2199). Match­ing pieces avail­able

Click fit: Ikea’s new wedge dowel, said to cut assem­bly time by 50-80 per cent

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