Confession: When I meet people who find IKEA furniture difficult to assemble, I write them off as idiots. I told this to my girlfriend (also an industrial designer) and she concurred; I don't know if it's because we ID'ers are trained to read drawings and put things together, but we both find the instructions exceedingly simple, the assembly straightforward and unchallenging.
Still, it seems a lot of people actually have trouble driving screws and nails. And for these folks, designer and Eindhoven grad Benjamin Vermeulen has a clever solution in his flatpack, no-tools-required Magnetic Assisted Geometry furniture line:
Shipping furniture unassembled is more economical and more environmentally friendly. But flat-packed furniture is often made from low-grade material and its assembly is far from straightforward. Assembling 'MAG' (Magnetic Assisted Geometry) furniture is easy, takes minutes, and requires no tools.
The furniture, made from high-quality steel and wood, snaps together with the help of powerful magnets. It can be assembled and disassembled without losing its initial structural integrity. This means you can take it apart if you are moving or selling it on. And replacing parts is easy since they come right off and reattach with the same ease.
Regular Core77 readers will remember we've seen something similar before: The BARkwadraat table designed by Eveline Pieters' Green Tuna Design brand and Joene Verschuren. But whereas Pieters' and Verschuren's creation was created from scraps and cut-offs (which I kinda dug), Vermeulen's MAG line is purpose-built from raw stock. Also, the BARKwadraat website, sadly, has not been updated since we first wrote about it a couple of years ago, so it's possible they've gone belly up.
Back to the IKEA thing—you guys think I'm being too harsh, or do you all secretly think the same thing?
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Firstly, for this to be a reasonable competitor to Ikea it must be made in China and put in a small box. Putting things with magnets in a box is a nightmare. The parts will try and join up (notice how when they start out all the pieces are neatly spaced out) and will be difficult to pack tightly in a small box. On the factory floor, when you are dealing with hundreds of components, you will spend hours just trying to separate and handle parts in the factory, let alone just trying to break off a magnet from the block of hundreds from the supplier. Lets see people who are unable read instructions, try and separate out of a box and not scratch the hell out of the powder-coat.
The other reason is a little more subtle, trying to move magnets between factories is expensive (no airfreight unless you have an expensive permit) and time consuming. It is possible to source magnets for China to China but it is difficult, and importing will incur heavy import tax.
it was probably the wine that slowed them down, but still...
I think people just don't want to bother to put in the minimal time and effort with the assembly. I suppose they feel they bought a piece of furniture , not an erector set for adults.