Chasing Sustainability Through eSports
Earth justice
Product innovation

In many ways, IKEA democratized industrial design by revolutionizing the home furnishings market. Custom, pre-assembled furniture was swapped for flat-packed, self-assembled pieces, while white-glove home delivery was replaced by eager customers carrying home the goods in the back of a Twingo. No longer were elegant lines the strict purview of grown-up homeowners. Suddenly, young apartment dwellers had access to design.

Our approach

Design question

But there’s always a tradeoff. Over time, IKEA’s guiding principle of sustainability increasingly felt in tension with its other four principles—form, function, quality, and low price. How might an industry innovator reconcile its earth-conscious belief system with the realities of the vast global business model it had created?

Design response

3D printing presented a new horizon for IKEA manufacturing. Not only did the fabrication method promise re-localization of production and massive drops in shipping-related carbon; it offered unique opportunities for customization, too. Who better to start with than eSports gamers, who view furniture as an extension of self? With a team of industrial, interaction, and service designers, the team presented a novel industrial concept with corresponding mobile application and in-store service model—on-stage at Democratic Design Days, IKEA's annual press even at headquarters in Älmhult.


“At IKEA, we step out in front and claim the idea. That’s part of what Democratic Design Days is about. We knew we wanted to work with eSports gamers, and we wanted to go after the game chair, as this is really central to the way these players identify as players. So the remit was definitely ‘chair’, but Lisa and the team came back with more than just another chair. In about 90 days, they dove into user research with the well-known gamers we had already partnered with, they pulled out two or three designable needs, and they built a whole ecosystem around those that could address the many people involved in eSports, from prize-winning competitors to relaxed social players, and the many people in between. It was one of the most comprehensive presentations we’ve had at DDD—a big idea that still intrigues me today.”

Marcus Engman

Chief Creative Officer at IKEA