Talk about taking human-centric design a little too literally…
The Flamträd collection marks a pretty huge deviation from IKEA’s signature style. Not only does it move away from IKEA’s very model of DIY flat-packed furniture/accessories, but it also makes use of 3D printing, a manufacturing method that’s still quite new to IKEA. The collection comprises a set of human-inspired decor, printed life-size and with intricate detailing that can only be achieved through 3D printing. The Flamträd collection features multiple posed hands, faces, and heads that can either be placed on tabletop surfaces or mounted on walls. There’s really no function ascribed to the collection, and it’s all really up to how each user interprets them. They can either be used as quirky accent pieces and motifs or to hold items like hats and headphones (on the head-shaped unit) or fashion accessories like necklaces, rings, etc. (on the various hand-shaped units).
The IKEA Flamträd collection boasts of a polygonal mesh design that allows each printed piece to achieve high-strength without material wastage. It imparts an almost see-through aesthetic that gives each piece instant eye-catching complexity, and keen designers will notice how similar this visual style is to the polygonal meshes seen on 3D models. Each Flamträd piece is printed in either black or white out of polyamide (more generically referred to as Nylon) using a process called SLS or Selective Laser Sintering, where a laser melts together particles of plastic (or metal) powder to create a design that’s precise and comes with a signature matte ‘sandy’ finish that looks good enough on its own and doesn’t need polishing, sanding, or painting.
IKEA’s experimentation with 3D printing began in 2020 with its collaboration with UNYQ over the UPPKOPPLA series of 3D printed gaming accessories (from headphone stands to wrist supports). It’s difficult to say if the Flamträd is a result of their continuing partnership, although one could easily draw parallels between the design styles of the two collections. While the Uppkoppla collection was launched globally, the Flamträd is only limited to IKEA’s German market, possibly indicating that the company is gradually building up its 3D printing infrastructure to cater to eventual global demand, especially given how painstakingly slow the SLS printing process can be. In the long run, though, 3D printing can help IKEA design and produce items on the fly, printing them as per demand with little to no material wastage… if anything, that’s the kind of efficiency one could expect from the Swedish home decor giant.
Although limited to its German demographic, the IKEA Flamträd collection is available in black or white, and is priced at $35 (€30) for a single hand, $40 (€35) for a face, and $57 (€50) for an entire 3D-printed head that stands at roughly 10 inches tall.