Ikea kitchens hacked by Danish architects including BIG

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Danish architecture studios BIG, Henning Larsen and Norm have hacked Ikea flat-pack kitchens for Danish company Reform (+ slideshow).

Reform, which specialises in customising the Swedish furniture giant's Metod kitchen, invited the trio – who are among the biggest names in Danish architecture – to produce designs for its range.

Kitchen hack by Norm
Kitchen hack by Norm

"The kitchen is one of the most important rooms in our home," said founder and CEO Jeppe Christensen. "But interestingly, it is often overlooked when it comes to design. For the most part our kitchens are white and as neutral as possible. We want to change this."

Reform Ikea kitchen hacks by BIG Henning Larsen and Norm
Kitchen hack by BIG

BIG, the Copenhagen and New York studio led by Bjarke Ingels, has added handles made from car seat belts to the cupboards of its kitchen.

Reform Ikea kitchen hacks by BIG Henning Larsen and Norm
Kitchen hack by BIG

The black fabric is looped over and fitted behind the top corner of each cabinet door, creating a tab for easy opening.

Reform Ikea kitchen hacks by BIG Henning Larsen and Norm
Kitchen hack by BIG

"For several years we've been flirting with the idea of making custom-designed kitchens," said Jakob Lange, head of design at BIG Ideas. "But in reality we often end up with custom-made kitchens that are quite expensive. That's why the thought of making a kitchen which is exclusive in every way except the price appeals a lot to us."



The BIG kitchen is available in white and oak with a composite tabletop and composite wash, which can be substituted for stainless steel.

Reform Ikea kitchen hacks by BIG Henning Larsen and Norm
Kitchen hack by Henning Larsen

Henning Larsen Architects aimed to mix warm and cold colours by adding vertical strips of metal to the edges of wooden cupboard doors.

Reform Ikea kitchen hacks by BIG Henning Larsen and Norm
Kitchen hack by Henning Larsen

Oak veneer is paired with copper, while another version has a steel band spray-painted in white or black to match the doors.

Reform Ikea kitchen hacks by BIG Henning Larsen and Norm
Kitchen hack by Henning Larsen

"All projects Henning Larsen Architects work on reveal their strong roots in the Scandinavian tradition of design," said a statement from Reform.

"Their kitchen design is simple, timeless and inspired by a classic carpentry-kitchen with custom-made elements."

Reform Ikea kitchen hacks by BIG Henning Larsen and Norm
Kitchen hack by Norm

Copenhagen-based Norm Architects, which recently completed an Italian restaurant interior, removed the handles from the surfaces and replaced them with magnetic touch latches to keep a minimal appearance.


Related content: see more kitchens


The countertop material – available in fibre-reinforced concrete, bronzed tombac metal, oak-sawn veneer and smoked oak – is continued around the sides and below the doors.

Reform Ikea kitchen hacks by BIG Henning Larsen and Norm
Kitchen hack by Norm

"The common thread which identifies Norm Architect's projects is the recognisable, clean and geometrical expression," said a statement from Reform.

"Simple, natural and authentic are the code words for Norm Architects – which surely also holds true for the kitchen they have designed for Reform."

Reform Ikea kitchen hacks by BIG Henning Larsen and Norm
Kitchen hack by Norm

Reform offers drawer and cabinet fronts as well as countertops to provide customers with more options for the furniture giant's basic design. To use the service, customers send their Ikea order confirmation, drawings and choice of Reform style options.

Reform Ikea kitchen hacks by BIG Henning Larsen and Norm
Kitchen hack by Norm

When the elements are then delivered, the user installs the fronts themselves on the Ikea hinges and brackets that come with the kitchen.

Reform Ikea kitchen hacks by BIG Henning Larsen and Norm
Kitchen hack by BIG

These three designs kitchens will debut at Danish trade show Northmodern, which will take place in Copenhagen from 13 to 15 August 2015.

Reform Ikea kitchen hacks by BIG Henning Larsen and Norm
Kitchen hack by BIG

Ikea presented its own kitchens created as part of collaborations with designers Paola Navone, Matali Crasset, Studio Irvine and Thomas Sandell earlier this year.

Reform Ikea kitchen hacks by BIG Henning Larsen and Norm
Kitchen hack by Henning Larsen

Last year, the Swedish company backed out of legal action against a website that publishes user modifications of its products.

  • DikkieSmabers

    Well, it makes you wonder what such a set to vamp up your Ikea kitchen is going to cost. The Vola tap as shown in the photos alone is close to the same price as the whole Ikea set.

    Besides, what quality do you get for the extra money if the hinges and body of the kitchen remains the same?

    • Guest

      Those achingly cool, but very expensive taps beloved of architects everywhere, which limescale seize like no other tap I’ve known.

  • Cam

    They have managed to make Ikea look almost high quality. :D

    • Valentin Ile

      They had to, no matter how high or low Ikea is, in order to triple their price for the same materials.

      • Cam

        Haha. True enough :P

  • SteveLeo

    The concept of using Ikea carcasses and adding higher value/more interesting fronts and surfaces is a great way of forming a practical and economical kitchen, but the materials and fittings used above is antithetical to the idea of an economical ‘hack’.

  • Sim

    I don’t “get it”. I don’t see what the added value is. I fail to see what is interesting about pulls made from this material (and I wonder they they are attached to the side of the drawer rather than the middle). Now if it added a better functionality than conventional pulls, but I fail to see that as well. Also (creative) people have been hacking Ikea kitchens for years. It’s all a bit “emperors new clothes”.

    • Matt

      Totally agree, I did the very same thing in my own home five years ago, using Ikea carcases and customising with a more expensive door panel and handle. The thing that gets me, why didn’t I shout from the rooftops to Dezeen, design is meant to be original.

      • sarah

        How have the Ikea bases held up over the last five years? Given my experience with other Ikea furniture, I am skeptical about the longevity.

  • Massimo

    They’ve hacked Ikea’s affordable designs to create unaffordable aspiration pieces. I really love the style but it’s almost certainly out of my league in terms of cost now, which is rather perverse. If you have the money for this, why use Ikea as a starting point in the first place?

    • missa66

      Spot on.

  • spadestick

    Whoa… nice hack! I want that kitchen tap in Ikea’s pricing.

  • Emily

    Of course this will be a little bit more expensive but it will offer personalisation, which is surely worth it?

  • Brian Griggs

    I’m sure the price for the addition design or concept is not within the reach of most (unlike Ikea ). Nice ideas but not original, like me we have been using the quality Ikea for the basic shell and adapting with alternative finishes… steel, bamboo, raw oak etc., for many years now. When it comes to function, fabric handles are not a good choice in the kitchen.

    I am sure many like me are a little fed up with style over function, especially in the kitchen when the emphasis should be on hygiene, safety and function. Companies like the Swedish Superfront have been making great handles and door fronts and tops for Ikea units for a long time.

  • RotterdamCynic

    None of these look remotely practical or serviceable – what happens if the seat belts get dirty? If you have food on your hands in your own kitchen, do you have to take them off and wash them? That shallow sink looks terrible for washing dishes, and similarly it’s almost impossible to clean square sinks properly.

    The wooden/laminate edge next to the one sink by Henning Larson would be dirty and start to rot within weeks. Why wouldn’t you make the metal and wood flush? Most of these are utter fail. Don’t fix something if it ain’t broke!

  • Arjay Cee