Dezeen Magazine

IKEA switches to furniture that snaps together in minutes without requiring tools

The fiddly ritual of assembling IKEA furniture is set to become a thing of the past as the furniture giant introduces products that snap together "like a jigsaw puzzle".

The brand has developed a new type of joint, called a wedge dowel, that makes it much quicker and simpler to assemble wooden products. This does away with the need for screws, bolts, screwdrivers and allen keys.

IKEA Jesper and lock technology
IKEA have introduced a new type of joint, called a wedge dowel, to make furniture assembly much simpler

The small, ribbed protrusion comes ready installed in flat-packed furniture panels and slots into pre-drilled holes in neighbouring panels.

The innovation has partly been driven by consumer resistance to the often slow and frustrating experience of putting together IKEA products, and partly as a way of saving resources, since it does away with the need for dozens of metal fittings.

IKEA Jesper and lock technology
IKEA first introduced the wedge-dowel concept in 2014, on products including its Stockholm cabinets

"IKEA furniture typically contains quite a lot of fittings," IKEA's range and supply manager Jesper Brodin told Dezeen. "We see some challenges in the time and interest in doing that."

"So we thought, what happens if we try to take them out totally? We are now into the implementation phase of making it possible for you to click your furniture together."

IKEA first introduced the wedge dowel in its Regissör storage products and Stockholm cabinets in 2014 to test the concept. It now intends to roll out the system across its entire furniture range, starting with the wooden Lisabo table, which went on sale earlier this year.

"I actually put together a table which used to take me 24 minutes to assemble but took me three minutes to click together," said Brodin.

IKEA Jesper and lock technology
IKEA intends to roll out the wedge dowel system across its entire furniture range starting with the Lisabo series

The wedge dowel requires no glue, yet can be taken apart and reassembled many times without loss of structural integrity.

This means the products will last longer and are better suited to modern lifestyles, said Brodin, speaking to Dezeen at the Design Indaba 2017 conference in Cape Town last week, where IKEA ran a product-development workshop with African designers.

"People move a lot more now," he said. "There are more divorces. So if you get kicked out [of your house] in the morning you can reassemble your table in the afternoon."

"It's actually better to be honest, because some of our [current] furniture if you dissemble it and assemble it again it might lose some of the strength of the fittings," he added.

IKEA Jesper and lock technology
The wooden Lisabo table, which features the wedge dowel system, went on sale earlier this year

However some IKEA products will continue to be assembled in the traditional way, Brodin added.

"There will probably still be some things you assemble but maybe we can make that more fun and easy. But the big furniture products are going to be clicked together."

Design Indaba took place at Cape Town's Artscape Theatre from 1 to 3 March 2017.

IKEA was the highest-placed brand in Dezeen Hot List 2016, a survey of the people and organisations Dezeen readers most wanted to read about.