Us With Love – Odger for IKEA
This chair echoes the mantra of a democratic and intuitive industrial design where form, function, price, quality and sustainability come together in a product. Though behind that, lies complex engineering: a distinct buckle inspired construction, injection moulded using 30/70 post-industrial, recycled, wood-plastic composite—a chair, made with nonvirgin materials and a no-screw ssembly, available in blue, white and brown.
‘A few years ago, Ikea wanted to work with logistics in a more sustainable way and set up a production line for euro pallets in wood plastic. The choice of material turned out to less successful for the pallets, but instead, the material became the starting point for Odger chair. A mistake turned into something very good,’ Åsa Hedeberg, Senior Product developer at Ikea, explains.
Despite being made of a sustainably sourced material, Odger does something unusual—a click—securing the assembly of chair’s shell seat and leg section using two handles. This configuration alters the way we think about putting a chair together, mimicking the behaviour of turning water hose key or closing a baking tray.
‘The brief for the chair was very much concentrated on the reclaimed wood-plastic and its properties, but the economy of the transport—having to tackle the separation and assembly of shell and legs—became an equally important departure for us,’ says John Löfgren, Creative Director at Form Us With Love.
‘When you open the box of the Odger chair, there are only four pieces in it; the seat of the chair, the frame and the two handles. There is a manual how to do it, but the way to assemble the chair is so intuitive you don´t really need it,’ Hedeberg adds.
On further commitments, this three-yearlong design project had an astonishing dedication to comfort, constantly assessing the design to optimize the flexibility of the material. ‘We knew that this chair was going to be used by different people across the globe, therefore, we wanted Odger to be a chair that embraces you, whoever you are—for long periods of time—which for us, meant creating hundreds of prototypes, testing the millimetres of every bend,’ Löfgren continues.
One of the challenges with wood plastic is that it is strong, but less flexible, which means it could break if you design it incorrectly. The only way to optimise the comfort is therefore to prototype it. The seat of the Odger chair is generous and comfortable, achieved through comparisons and persistent human testing.
‘Today its still common to design something and then try to find a suitable material. Odger’s journey, however, begun with a material and from there, Form Us With Love and our team at Ikea conducted, what I would call, a high-class engineering investigation, in order to secure both seating experience and smart assembly.’ Nikolay Pishiev, Deputy Engineer Quality and Requirements Manager at Ikea, recalls.
‘We are fortunate to be able to work with the best engineers and material experts in the world, people who share our drive for making a real change to the way we evaluate everyday objects. The Odger chair is a collaborative design statement, showing that starting from resources and processing is key,’ says Jonas Pettersson, CEO at Form Us With Love.
‘Odger is a team effort where everyone contributed. You can´t only work with the form in isolation, you need to use the form in order to create a complete product, I think this is what Odger has thought me’, Hedeberg concludes.