Hacking – Turning an IKEA Chair into a Bicycle


What do you do when you open a parcel and see an instruction? Do you read the instruction before you try to assemble the parts? Do you try first yourself and only read the instruction after you have failed to assemble the parts? Or do you change the instruction and build something else?

Envisioning what you can build for a limited number of parts is a great way to design something new.  Innovation can be powered by a thorough understanding of how to transform existing ideas and turn them into something new. If you simply follow Ikea’s visual instructions, you will end up with a chair or a bookshelf. But is you decide to explore ways to turn the parts into something new you can end up with a completely different item.

Samuel Bernier and Andreas Bhend used parts from Ikea’s Frosta stool and ended up with a kids bicycle. Bhend started by writing down three words on a piece of paper:

  • Bike
  • Sled
  • House

The parts for the stool worked out to be suitable for building a bicycle.  The handlebars may be a bit stiff but apart from that, the wheels are rolling smoothly.

In this case, the idea was not to invent something completely new. All the suggestions were existing items. Yet using a limited number of parts and putting them together in a new way can lead to a completely new product. You may need to change the material once the new design is taking shape.  Exploring a limited number of parts provides a frame for your thinking. Andyou will end up reading instructions manuals with new glasses.

Draisienne, the IKEA hack by Samuel N. Bernier and Andreas Bhend from le FabShop on Vimeo.

Go here to read the instructions to convert the chair into a bicycle.

You can read more about innovations and design here or here.

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