Falling Barriers or how to hack IKEA

  • Jennifer BĂ€chtold

DIY – abbreviation for do-it-yourself as well as the style of new luxury!

How do designers deal with this trend? How can companies benefit? These questions were the basis for the round table Digital Shift in March 2015, located @Liip.

Actually, easy-to-use digital tools in various application areas aren't completely new. Even when I was twelve or thirteen, I built my own Website with Beepworld. I have to admit that it looked terrible and no company would build its website with Beepworld. But hey, that was in the early years of the 21th century!

The enhancements of such easy-to-use tools cause falling barriers everywhere: today I can produce and disseminate a website myself although I have no knowledge of web development. Thanks to WordPress, Mailchimp and many such tools! This lowering of barriers promote the appearance of a do-it-yourself culture and alternative business models – self made, the new luxury?

During his presentation at Digital Shift, architect and designer Antonio Scarponi explained his way of earning money with DIY: Creating manuals instead of products.

Why build new furniture, clothes or other things, where you have to look for providers and carry the financial risk? Why not do it like Antonio and use the worldwide selling points and customer friendly return policy of IKEA?

How did he do it? Antonio Scarponi wrote a Book: “ ELIOOO or how to go to IKEA and build a device to grow food in your apartment”. By using only components which can be purchased in IKEA, he outsourced the whole distribution and assembly.

Antonio as designer and IKEA as company can benefit from this hack. But what are the requirements to profit of DIY? How shall I handle the falling barriers? 

Although he had just 15 minutes instead of scientifically necessary 45 minutes, Simon Grand, Scientist at University of St. Gall (HSG) and Zurich University of the Arts (ZhdK) explained to us the relevant business processes. Before you can determine the effects of falling barriers on business practices, you need to know the processes. As relevant he defined the following steps:

create ideas, which do not yet exist

act them out through several prototypes

judge and evaluate these ideas and prototypes

concretize the way of implementation by experiments

build an organisation which allows these processes to repeat

Mobilize the necessary resources. Always be aware of the origin of resources

Make the idea realizable for serial production

Distribute realized ideas

scale ideas

But why do lots of interesting new ideas by designers and artists end up in museums instead of being sold around the world? According to Simon, its caused in the barrier between innovative designers and artists, and the companies. They often do not speak the same Language. Furthermore, most of companies have no consequent trial and error strategy which would boost new business models independently from current approaches.

Antonio and Simon sparked a lot of new questions, ideas and thoughts – not only in my mind. A long lasting discussion about possibilities, loss of quality, new business models and experts took place and I'd say, every participant got new input.

You want to know more about Digital Shift and falling barriers?

Digital Shift: www.digital-shift.org

Presentation of Antonio Scarponi: DIY or DIE

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