Why IKEAhackers Is Not The Enemy

Big companies make questionable moves all the time.

IKEA’s decision a few weeks ago to thank IKEAhackers for eight years of unpaid cheerleading with a Cease-and-Desist letter probably won’t go down as the biggest PR blunder in recent memory – Coke had New Coke, the Gap’s revamped logo lasted about a weekend, Burger King traumatized us with their creepy King.  Still, the nidingsdåd from Billy-buds worldwide when the story broke begs the question: How, in this age of social media and Millennials and IKEA’s own artsy videos, does this decision get made in the first place?

In a way, the dispute is similar to the resistance YouTube and others faced from media titans like Viacom a few years back.  What those giants somehow failed to acknowledge at the time was the fact that the same “stolen” content they were so desperately trying to protect – clips of CSI and Michael Bublé videos and you name it – was actually growing the fan-base and selling their products at virtually no cost to them.

The smart move would have been to hire blog’s owner.  IKEA didn’t, and all hell broke loose on sites like Gizmodo, the Washington Post and others. 

Fortunately, despite the fact that – it’s true – some hacks are just plain abominations, the company has reconsidered its position (concern with encouraging product improvisation is on par with somebody tricking out their Civic with 28-inch spinners and then suing Honda for looking ridiculous).  Money questions remain, though; IKEAhackers charges for advertising to keep the site running, a cut IKEA currently has no part of.

For the record, Semihandmade advertises on the website.  Like our friends at Panyl, Knesting and Pretty Pegs, we exist in that brave new frontier somebody coined IKEA’s ecosystem; we’re after-market, not affiliated with IKEA in any way, and basically wouldn’t exist without them.  Really, we are no different than the countless companies out there making iPad stands and frames and cozies and cases that sites like Kickstarter were invented for.  And what IKEAhackers has done – until now – is help promote us and the much larger DIY movement, not unlike Ikeafans.com, another site that’s been around for years and whose sole purpose is to champion the IKEA brand.

Speaking for Semihandmade, we are appreciative of the quality products that are our platform, thrilled the fan-base’s continued and growing support, and we would be complete and total idiots if we didn’t live in healthy, constant, respectful fear of pissing the folks in Sweden off.

Naturally, with all the noise this past week, some have asked about the fate of companies like ours.  We don’t foresee problems.  The key with us is the fact that IKEA gives people the option of not buying their doors.  It’s not advertised in print or on-line or on any signs around the stores, but it is absolutely true: with IKEA kitchens, closets and some media cabinets all the components are a-la-carte.  You pick and choose what you like.  So if you want to make a door or side panel or drawer front yourself, or buy one from someone like us, or even go totally without, the company’s attitude seems to be: have at it, selling half is better than none – a genius move that’s totally unheard of in the furniture/casegoods world.

Really, the only awkward brush we’ve ever had with the company took place at ICFF last year and was totally my fault.  It was our debut at the show, and IKEA was also there to launch their spiffy new furniture collection.  Exhibiting in New York for the first time was already a huge deal for us with the cost and logistics and travel arrangements, forget about the fact that IKEA’s installation was thirty feet away.  In truth, the show could not have gone better, the response to our doors both humbling and gratifying (you guys are amazing, and we are endlessly appreciative of the love and support).  The highlight, though, was the steady chorus of ooohs and aahhhs from IKEA executives and sales staff bussed in from the Philly hub and local stores.  Thrilled, I spent the entire weekend raving about the design and style of their new Copenhagen line until a Swedish gentleman took me aside and politely suggested I remove my huvud from my rumpa since it was actually called the Stockholm collection.

See, Mom, this is why I make doors.

He was actually lovely about it, correcting me gracefully, and I can proudly say I have since committed that section of the globe to memory.

Anyway, we’ll see how this plays out as it sounds like a positive resolution for both sides is imminent.  Keep hacking away, and let us know if we or our friends can help.

We’re not going anywhere.

John McDonald


Semihandmade and the New IKEA™ Kitchen

By now you’ve no doubt heard of IKEA’s™ “Metod” cabinet line that will be arriving in the US and Canada within the next year to replace the current Akurum system.  For a video introduction – and only part of it in Swedish! – go ahead and click here.

Pretty cool, huh?  As much as we’re huge Akurum fans and it’s been the launching pad for everything Semihandmade, we are definitely impressed with what we’ve seen so far and intrigued with Metod’s possibilities – more versatile interior hardware, easier installation, cleaner lines.  Even the new fronts and finishes we like!  What seems obvious is that a great deal of time, thought and money has gone into refining the entire kitchen system.  And while it’s maybe a fair question to ask “Why fix it if it ain’t broken?” after over 20 years of success with Akurum, there’s no harm in trying something new, right?

It’s not like they’ve overhauled their entire catalogue.  Nothing has changed with their Pax closets, Godmorgon and Lillangen bathrooms, and Besta media lines, and we’ll continue to pump out doors, drawer fronts and panels for each of those systems as long as you’ll have us!

Still, we’re flooded with more and more Metod questions every week, so we thought we’d take a moment to share what we know:

1) What’s in a name?  The new line will be called “Sektion.”

2) How is Sektion different than Akurum?  Keep in mind that what arrives in the US and Canada may be very different than what is happening overseas as cabinets in Europe are generally more space-sensitive and the faces more contemporary, but based on the videos we’ve seen the outside cabinet dimensions are different, and overall the system looks more modular with parts easily interchangeable; a single door can cover multiple boxes, more than one drawer can hide behind a single drawer face.  There is also color featured on accent cabinets, as well as the addition of open bookcases to compliment things like islands.

3) When will Sektion arrive in the US and Canada?  Late January/Early February of 2015.

4) What happens to Akurum?  Production will cease on the Akurum system by the end of this year, 2014.

5) And that famous IKEA™ 25-Year Limited WarrantyGreat question.  25 years is a long time.  What happens if I buy a product on Monday… that gets discontinued Tuesday… then heaven forbid breaks on Wednesday (or Thursday, or Friday, or 18 years of Fridays from now)?  Fair concern, right?  Here we are guessing A) there will be a stockpile of Akurum parts to honor any claims, and when that runs out they’ll just have to replace your old cabinets with the new line, B) IKEA™ no doubt did a ton of research before coming up with the number “25,” and since most folks replace their kitchens every 10 years or so there’s a great chance there won’t be any issues with your Akurum kitchen before you replace it with the Sektion line (and Semihandmade doors, of course) in 2024, C) maybe most exciting for a lot of people, and totally worth the risk, is the possibility IKEA™ will be offering some killer sales before the end of the year to unload a ton of stock (including the kitchen sale that starts June 27!!!).

6) When will you start offering Sektion doors?  As soon as dimensions are available to us, Semihandmade will begin production of Sektion-compatible doors.  We are guessing we’ll have all the dimensions by the end of the year, although the sale of our doors won’t commence until Sektion hits US and Canada IKEAs™.

7) Will you continue offering Akurum doors?  Semihandmade will absolutely continue offering doors for the IKEA™ Akurum kitchen system for as long as people have them!

The IKEA™ UK site also answers a bunch of questions.

Have we forgotten anything?  We love your input, so definitely let us know!




Semihandmade, Meet Duluth

We’re fortunate to ship a lot of doors for IKEA™ kitchens and bathrooms every week, but it’s hard to get a sense of how a finished project turns out.  That’s why it’s always exciting to get photos back; this Semihandmade Flatsawn Walnut IKEA™ kitchen in Duluth, MN is no exception!  Special thanks to Susan Maguire for the amazing shots.

Nothing quite shows off the wood’s natural beauty like running the grain horizontally (just check out that the pantry wall by the fridge!).  You’ll also notice the open bookcase, which is just one of the many custom options we offer – think wine cabinets and floating shelves – to make your dream project even more one-of-a-kind.  The white Abstrakt doors and drawer fronts from IKEA™ scattered throughout frame the room nicely and also soften the walnut’s brown tones.  Lastly, it’s hard to miss the pop of those orange barstools – they’re from our friends at Loll Designs, the folks that make just about everything from 100% recycled milk bottles.  We’re long-time fans of their work, so it’s fun to finally see our two worlds collide.  It’s also worth nothing that like everything else from Loll, the stools are not only easy on the eyes, they’re pretty much indestructible (kind of important if you notice all that white stuff out on the deck!).  For more information on this project, please visit our Houzz page.