Why Ikeahackers Is Not The Enemy

Big companies make questionable moves all the time. IKEA's decision a few weeks ago to thank IKEAhackers for eight years of unpaid cheerleading with a Cease-and-Desist letter probably won't go down as the biggest PR blunder in recent memory - Coke had New Coke, the Gap's revamped logo lasted about a weekend, Burger King traumatized us with their creepy King.  Still, the nidingsdåd from Billy-buds worldwide when the story broke begs the question: How, in this age of social media and Millennials and IKEA's own artsy videos, does this decision get made in the first place? In a way, the dispute is similar to the resistance YouTube and others faced from media titans like Viacom a few years back.  What those giants somehow failed to acknowledge at the time was the fact that the same "stolen" content they were so desperately trying to protect - clips of CSI and Michael Bublé videos and you name it - was actually growing the fan-base and selling their products at virtually no cost to them. The smart move would have been to hire blog's owner.  IKEA didn't, and all hell broke loose on sites like Gizmodo, the Washington Post and others.  Fortunately, despite the fact that - it's true - some hacks are just plain abominations, the company has reconsidered its position (concern with encouraging product improvisation is on par with somebody tricking out their Civic with 28-inch spinners and then suing Honda for looking ridiculous).  Money questions remain, though; IKEAhackers charges for advertising to keep the site running, a cut IKEA currently has no part of. For the record, Semihandmade advertises on the website.  Like our friends at Panyl, Knesting and Pretty Pegs, we exist in that brave new frontier somebody coined IKEA's ecosystem; we're after-market, not affiliated with IKEA in any way, and basically wouldn't exist without them.  Really, we are no different than the countless companies out there making iPad stands and frames and cozies and cases that sites like Kickstarter were invented for.  And what IKEAhackers has done - until now - is help promote us and the much larger DIY movement, not unlike Ikeafans.com, another site that's been around for years and whose sole purpose is to champion the IKEA brand. Speaking for Semihandmade, we are appreciative of the quality products that are our platform, thrilled the fan-base's continued and growing support, and we would be complete and total idiots if we didn't live in healthy, constant, respectful fear of pissing the folks in Sweden off. Naturally, with all the noise this past week, some have asked about the fate of companies like ours.  We don't foresee problems.  The key with us is the fact that IKEA gives people the option of not buying their doors.  It's not advertised in print or on-line or on any signs around the stores, but it is absolutely true: with IKEA kitchens, closets and some media cabinets all the components are a-la-carte.  You pick and choose what you like.  So if you want to make a door or side panel or drawer front yourself, or buy one from someone like us, or even go totally without, the company's attitude seems to be: have at it, selling half is better than none - a genius move that's totally unheard of in the furniture/casegoods world. Really, the only awkward brush we've ever had with the company took place at ICFF last year and was totally my fault.  It was our debut at the show, and IKEA was also there to launch their spiffy new furniture collection.  Exhibiting in New York for the first time was already a huge deal for us with the cost and logistics and travel arrangements, forget about the fact that IKEA's installation was thirty feet away.  In truth, the show could not have gone better, the response to our doors both humbling and gratifying (you guys are amazing, and we are endlessly appreciative of the love and support).  The highlight, though, was the steady chorus of ooohs and aahhhs from IKEA executives and sales staff bussed in from the Philly hub and local stores.  Thrilled, I spent the entire weekend raving about the design and style of their new Copenhagen line until a Swedish gentleman took me aside and politely suggested I remove my huvud from my rumpa since it was actually called the Stockholm collection. See, Mom, this is why I make doors. He was actually lovely about it, correcting me gracefully, and I can proudly say I have since committed that section of the globe to memory. Anyway, we'll see how this plays out as it sounds like a positive resolution for both sides is imminent.  Keep hacking away, and let us know if we or our friends can help. We're not going anywhere. John McDonald

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