Ikea hacking goes pro at Toronto Design Week

Imagine buying Ikea furniture — and not following the instructions. That's pretty much what Karol Kosnik does for a living, dubbing himself the world's first professional Ikea hacker.

Local furniture designer explains how to get the best out of your flat-pack furniture

Karol Kosnik considers himself an 'Ikea hacker' and takes the store's furniture to the next level. 1:56

Imagine buying Ikea furniture — and not following the instructions. That's pretty much what Karol Kosnik does for a living, as a self-proclaimed professional Ikea hacker.

Kosnik plans to share some of his skills this weekend during a workshop at the Toronto Design Offsite Festival, an event held throughout the city in conjunction with Toronto Design Week.

Hacks range from a simple paint job, to more involved modifications that require drills and saws. (Karol Kosnik/Studio Kosnik)

"Ikea hacking allows people to be creative and it's part of the larger maker culture," he said. "The products are very readily accessible and well priced. That's the number one driver."

By trade, Kosnik is a carpenter and cabinet maker. 

Kosnik says hacking allows a lot of people to get in touch with their creative skills. (Paul Borkwood/CBC)

Finding his passion came with a lot of experimenting that followed after he dropped out of university. He eventually completed a degree at Sheridan College in furniture design.

Since then, he's prided himself on designing and modeling practical but attractive furniture. Ikea hacking is something that he said came naturally, and he only has two types of furniture in his house: Ikea made, or his own designs.

(Paul Borkwood/CBC)

"Ikea produces things that are functional. And people need functionality in their lives because it's a way that improves their lives," he said, adding that sometimes to get the ultimate use of the furniture, people need to alter it. 

Kosnik said he gets questions about hacking from all over the world, and that it gives people the opportunity to reconnect with their skills.

He said the Swedish company has even embraced hacking of its furniture to an extent.

Kosnik uses a variety of Ikea models to make built-in units, including this one. (Karol Kosnik/Studio Kosnik)

"I don't think it was fully intentional to sort of create this movement," he said. "It was a capitalist dream to download part of the labour on the consumer to lower prices."

Kosnik's workshop, "IKEA Hacking: The Cure for the Common Designer," takes place at The Assembly Hall, at Colonel Samuel Smith Park on Jan. 22.