ALMHULT, Sweden ― Fighting the public notion that Ikea products are cheap, and therefore may also be lacking in quality, the Swedish company’s management is keen on controlling the quality of the 9,500 or so items it produces.
At the firm’s lab in Almhult, about 10,000 items go through an annual test consisting of up to 1,800 different testing methods.
“We apply the strictest rules on furniture in the EU, and (these rules) are stricter than those in any of the countries where Ikea has outlets,” said Stefan Bertilsson, acting manager of the lab.
|Bed components are tested against shock at the Ikea Test Lab in Almhult, Sweden. (Ikea Korea)|
For example, the amount of formaldehyde ― an organic compound that may be linked to cancer ― that can be used is limited to 10 ppm, which is drastically lower than the EU standard of 100 ppm. A candle that is priced at under a dollar is not put on the store shelves until technicians have tested it on various levels, including the length and duration of the flame.
“For those who do not pass our tests, we change everything from materials to compartments and designs. If they still do not make it, they will never be able to hit the store shelves,” Bertilsson said. This confidence in its products explains Ikea’s 25-year-warranty.
Designs are also closely examined to ensure safety. Designer Sara Fager said her children can lick and suck all IKEA coloring pens for children. The caps of the pens also have small holes so that they won’t block the airway if a child tries to swallow one.
“As a mother, designer, I am relieved and proud. You can recommend this to anyone,” she said.
By Bae Ji-sook, Korea Herald correspondent