Christina Larsson, Range Design Leader at IKEA of Sweden AB.

From small space living to smart space solutions

By 2030, 60% of the world’s population will live in large cities. That means that limited space becomes a reality for an increasing number of people, by choice or necessity. We asked Christina Larsson and Britt Monti, Range Design Leaders at IKEA of Sweden AB, to tell us more about how we work to create clever and beautiful small space living solutions.

First thing’s first – what’s the story behind focusing on small space living?

Britt: “Small space living is one of our top three priorities, next to organising your living and living with children. We understand that these topics are important to customers which is why we focus on them. We are always asking ourselves how our products will work in a small space. Fundamentally, it’s about creating a better everyday life for as many people as possible, regardless of how and where they live.”

Britt Monti, Range Design Leader at IKEA of Sweden.
Britt Monti, Range Design Leader, IKEA of Sweden AB.

What counts as small space living?

Britt: “From an IKEA perspective small space living isn’t just about square metres, or even about cubic metres. Instead we’ve started talking about smart space living; how to use the space you have the best way possible.”

Christina: “Regardless of how you live, you’ll have a small and challenging space somewhere in the home. By making sure that as many as possible of our products are flexible and all-round we make life easier both for the person living in 15 square metres and for the eight friends sharing a large flat.”

How do you design a flexible piece of furniture?

Christina: “It can be as simple as ensuring that a new stool we develop is stackable, that a table is foldable, or that an armchair has built-in storage. It’s what we already do and need to get even better at.”

An interior showing IKEA RIGGA clothes rack with clothes in assorted colours hanging from IKEA NORDRANA hanging storage.
Micro-living in Copenhagen, Denmark. Smart IKEA products like RIGGA clothes rack and KUNGFORS net bags help make the most of every available bit of space.
Two IKEA KUNGSFORS net bags in beige cotton from more sustainable sources hanging in a window.

What’s the most widespread misconception surrounding small space living solutions?

Britt: “Above all that it’s just about designing small products – which it’s not. It’s much more about multi-purpose and functionality. There’s also a common notion, not just at our company but in general, that small space living is for young people. With more and more people moving into large cities where space is sparse, the reality looks different. Whether by choice or necessity, people of all ages live in limited space, and they all have their own needs, interests and dreams. Someone wants a large table that works for lots of different activities, but no sofa. Someone else can’t live without a massive sofa, and another wants lots of storage from floor to ceiling.”

A woman sits on the floor of a living room and opens the hidden storage under IKEA VALLENTUNA modular sofa in grey.
When we create products we think about multi-purpose and functionality, like with VALLENTUNA sofa which has hidden storage.

How about people who live in tiny spaces and want super clever solutions – what do you have in the pipeline for them?

Christina: “Other than the great products that are already part of the IKEA range, we plan to launch our first ever complete collection targeting super small space living in 2020. Called RÅVAROR, it’s inspired by urban life and will have a slightly more mature expression then we’re used to seeing in small space living solutions. We’re sure the great quality and look will make the collection a long-lasting favourite.”