Remember Kamarq from last year's NYCxDesign? If not, here's a dramatic refresher. Besides all the sneaky copying, Kamarq was onto something with their furniture subscription service geared towards city-dwelling millennials...
Now, less than a year later, IKEA will be adopting a similar furniture leasing program as they aim to move towards a circular business model that reuses and prolongs the lifespan of their furniture. Eventually, the company hopes to offer scalable subscription services, meaning once you return a piece at the end of its leasing/subscription period, you will have the option to swap that item out for a new piece.
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While we love IKEA all the way down to their (veggie) meatballs, we're concerned that the quality of their furniture may not be able to last through multiple lifecycles. To this point, IKEA has noted that they plan on taking returned furniture from the program and refurbishing it before putting it in the hands of the next subscriber. Think of this as a slight upgrade to raiding IKEA's 'as is' section because instead, you could just get something already fixed, presumably at a low cost since it has been through some s*** in other homes. The cost of this service hasn't been announced, but we'll update this article when the time comes.
Adopting a subscription model geared towards city dwellers who frequently move apartments brings about new concerns for IKEA, including more returns, more repairs and more foot traffic. We can confirm that returning things to IKEA in New York City without a car is nearly impossible. To adapt to this, IKEA will be rolling out a mini store in Manhattan this year in hopes of managing some of the added chaos. They're also considering a spare parts business so people can buy out-of-stock parts and hardware. So, a lot of changes are underway for our beloved IKEA. We'll see how it goes.
What're your thoughts on subscription furniture services? Is this another trend like subscription deodorant or a smart long-term business move for IKEA?
Emily is a freelance writer based in NYC with an interest in all things design, specifically the design process. When she's not writing about design, Emily can either be found taking care of her 31 houseplants, going on "nature" walks in her neighborhood or studying Japanese. Before going freelance, Emily was an Editor at Core77.