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Product Stories: FABRIKÖR Glass-door cabinet

An international team challenge

IKEA developers and designers visit suppliers all over the world to ensure products turn out just right. The FABRIKÖR cabinet, in particular, shows how important it is to be there on the floor with the supplier to solve problems – especially when we’re working in two different languages. 

From the beginning, designer Nike Karlsson wanted the rustic and industrial glass cabinet to be easy for customers to assemble. To achieve this, he designed it so that each leg would be attached with just two screws.

But there was a misunderstanding with the supplier factory in China, and they had used four screws for each leg. It might not sound like that big a deal, but for IKEA it is because it means more assembly time. The mix-up meant that when the IKEA team traveled to China to meet with the supplier, the two had to work together to design a new prototype in just days.

“You have just one chance,” Nike says. “We have tight schedules and so we need to collaborate with the suppliers right then and there to make sure it ends up being a product in the range.”

For three days, the team and supplier worked late into the evening to make the necessary changes. The IKEA team spoke no Chinese and the suppliers spoke little English, so the two sides communicated using hand gestures, translators – and good old-fashioned pen and paper. 

FABRIKÖR glass-door cabinet

FABRIKÖR glass-door cabinet, $169     

The result was a beautiful cabinet with two screws for each leg and a really easy assembly process that takes just 30 minutes. They came up with the clever idea to use the metal cabinet frame as part of the assembly solution, punching holes for click connections instead of using screws.

FABRIKÖR glass-door cabinet

“It can be hard to communicate your way of thinking from so far away and with a language barrier, but when you’re in one room you can show your ideas,” Nike says. “It’s hard to get your story and your vision across when you just send out the designs on paper. If you go there, you solve it much faster together, face-to-face, as a team.”

And introducing the new double-wide FABRIKÖR for spring 2017, coming in blue and gray!

FABRIKÖR double-wide glass cabinet


For anyone looking for a real and exclusive sneak peek behind the scenes of the famous IKEA thinking and design, this story gives a glimpse into the process that stands for the unexpected, the unusual and the quirky. Come back each month to see what we’ll talk about next.




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