Hacking isn’t just for computers: Meet Jules Yap of IKEA Hackers

Work & Business

Hacking isn’t just for computers: Meet Jules Yap of IKEA Hackers

coffee table
Knuff transformable coffee table by  Kenneth Yeoh

IKEA is an iconic Swedish brand that continually serves up sleek but affordable home goods.

But who would think a modern coffee table could be crafted from four sets of magazine files? Or that it was possible to turn kitchen cabinets into a lofted bed with storage?

Not us. But thanks to Jules Yap, the brain behind the popular website IKEA hackers, people from all over the world have access to innovative IKEA transformations.

IKEA hacking, similar to Life Hack videos you may have seen on YouTube, involves “hacking” IKEA products, or using them in a way that’s different than the product’s intended use.  Combining unlikely pieces like filing folders and tripod stands to create something totally new and unique.

Yap curates the successful projects from IKEA hackers all over the world. Readers can search projects, submit their own hacks and read her blog, where Yap currently is hacking her kitchen from head-to-toe.

We had a chance to catch up with her and learn more about the website that started as a hobby but turned into a full-time job. We’re thinking we may just need to attempt a hack for the office… and then write a story about it. Until then, happy hacking!

 

apothecary unit
EXPEDIT Shelf into a Apothecary Console by sawdust2stitches

We are so jealous we didn’t think of this first! How did IKEA Hackers come to be?

It started in 2006 when I was browsing some home decor sites and noticed a few modifications on IKEA furniture. That sparked my curiosity, and I started searching for more. When I found a handful, I thought it would be useful to have them all on one site. That’s how the lightbulb went on.

I am sure there are ways to hack all kinds of furniture. Why IKEA?

I think first, it’s not too expensive. You wouldn’t cut up a designer piece, would you? Second, customizing is also inherent in the IKEA system – you mix and match. Hacking is just taking it a little further or way out there. Some hackers really treat IKEA as their hardware store – shopping at IKEA for raw materials to modify. 

cheese grater lamp1
10 min cheese grater lamp by K McF

You managed to turn a potential cease and desist order into a trip to Sweden. How did that happen?

I think the credit goes to my readers and supporters all over the world. When they read my story about the C&D, they took to social media to inform IKEA of their displeasure. Many also wrote emails to their local IKEA. I am very glad that IKEA listened and turned it around so that we could discuss how to work together instead.  

What was your favorite part of the trip?

It had to be eating mussels with Marcus Engman, the Head of Design, IKEA of Sweden. He was really friendly and open.  

What surprised you the most about Sweden?

During the trip, unfortunately, I did not get to see that much of Sweden. I was mainly in Älmhult and Malmö [huddled inside IKEA buildings], so I would love to be able to visit Sweden again. I was surprised that the Swedish people were so multi-lingual and they switched from English to Swedish to Danish. It’s almost like in Malaysia, where the people speak 3-4 languages and dialects.

What are some of your all-time favorite hacks?

Some of my favorites are:

What advice do you have for an IKEA-hacking newbie?

My advice for the newbie hacker is to start simple. Sometimes just a simple change in color, fabric or embellishment will make a big difference to the piece of furniture that you have. If you need to use tools, be sure you know what you are doing. Stay safe. Cutting up a piece of furniture may modify the structural integrity of the product, so be clear of the risks. Lastly, be creative. Have fun.

They can start with hacks like these:

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