When the world becomes increasingly urban, IKEA now explores multifunctional furniture
Designed to transform from one function to another, to adapt to changing needs throughout the day.
16 Dec 2022

In 1960, 34% of the world’s population lived in cities. In 2020 the urban population exceeded 56%, and it continues to grow fast. As urbanisation is increasing, living space is shrinking. Yet human needs remain the same — we all need a place to sleep, eat, cook, relax, and entertain, and our homes have also become a place to work.

Research from IKEA shows the increasing need for solutions allowing flexible use of space, where a room or even a piece of furniture can be used for different activities to help make the most of limited living spaces. With emerging urban small-space living, our focus is shifting to how liveable the home is rather than how large it is. Focusing on versatility, the home furnishing company respond to these needs by exploring and developing multifunctional furniture that is transformable and adaptable to suit different activities and moods throughout the day using the same space. 

— With more than half of the world’s population living in cities, homes are getting smaller and smaller. And with living space becoming more limited, we need even more smart solutions to adapt to our ever-growing needs. In this project, we are exploring multifunctional furniture solutions inspired by the challenges of making a small space multi-functional, easy, and fun to live in. We hope these innovative solutions will greatly contribute to people whose everyday life happens in small spaces, says Mauricio Affonso, innovation development leader at IKEA of Sweden.  

Mauricio Affonso tries the foldable bed/desk solution.

One of the solutions is the foldable bed/desk solution that can transform one’s living or working room into a bedroom. It includes a foldable bed and a large desk for working, combined with storage below the desk, storage inside the bed, and shelf space above and on the inside. 

The project is still at the product development stage, where some of the solutions are planned to be sales started on a small scale during next year in two markets, Poland and Hong Kong, while IKEA is looking into making the range available globally. Starting this week, the prototypes of the new range will be shown at IKEA Museum in southern Sweden as part of the Existence​ Maximum​ – Big ideas on small spaces exhibition. 

The exhibition is open until September 2023.