IKEA has released a set of furniture hacks that anyone can download and 3D-print to make their products more usable by people with disabilities.
Bigger light switches, easier-to-grab handles and extenders for couch legs are among the designs produced so far in the ThisAbles project, an initiative of IKEA Israel and non-profits Milbat and Access Israel.
The add-ons are meant to “bridge some of the gaps between existing IKEA products and the special needs of people belonging to these populations [who live with some form of disability]”, according to the ThisAbles website.
IKEA says the project fits with its vision to “create a better everyday life for as many people as possible”. Each add-on is designed to fit at least one popular IKEA product, and its file can be accessed for free from anywhere in the world.
The idea is that they can then 3D-print it at home or at a local maker-space.
Among the 13 ThisAble designs that can be downloaded from the website are items that make furniture more grabable — including a Friendly Zipper to attach to bags or quilt covers, an Easy Handle that allows Pax cupboard doors to be opened with the forearm, and a Curtain Gripper to tackle slippery shower curtains.
Others address mobility, with Couch Lift legs that make the Karlstad sofa easier to rise from, and a Mega Switch to turn Ranarp lamps off and on.
For people who require items such as a walking stick to be securely stowed at their bedside there is the Cane By Me holder and the Snap Cup holder for Malm beds, while the Glass Bumper is made to be stuck onto glass doors at the height where they might be hit by a wheelchair.
For Kalax shelves, there’s the Insider mirror holder, which lines high shelves so that their contents can be seen from below, the Spot On shelf to make its form more distinguishable for people with impaired vision, and the Stuff Reader that works in conjunction with a special real-aloud pen.
As well as the downloadable model files, each add-on has a dedicated assembly guide, done in IKEA’s signature black-and-white graphics. A series of YouTube videos show each item in use.
The ThisAbles project started with a hackathon that brought together engineers and people with disabilities to work on ideas at an IKEA store.
As well as through the website — which is also designed with accessibility at the forefront — IKEA is showcasing the add-ons at a special in-store “accessible living space”.
After initially being resistant to the idea of others “hacking” its furniture, the Swedish furniture giant has embraced the trend in recent years.
Its recent collaboration with Tom Dixon, the Delaktig bed, is designed to be used with add-ons that evolve its look and function throughout its lifetime.
Whole businesses revolve around customising IKEA products, such as Danish brand Reform, which has produced hacks by Note Design and Afteroom.
Among other major companies to have recently rethought their designs for people with disabilities is Microsoft. It launched an adaptive controller for XBox that has big buttons and ports that support multiple add-ons.
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