Flexible electrical outlets, removable walls, and homes that extend beyond your apartment. New ways of living mean we are looking for new ways to live – the only question is whether real estate companies are involved?
Innovation can be created in many ways. It can be technology driven i.e. new technology is invented first and then it is checked how it is implemented in people’s daily life. Or it can be needs-driven, i.e. people’s needs govern the solutions that are developed. Ikano Bostads BoLabb works according to the latter alternative.
Our innovation and development work is highly customer driven. We listen to problems that customers have and try to solve them, says Lotta Sjoden, Director of Innovation and Strategic Development at Ikano Bostad.
BoLabb is not really a physics lab but is the name of the methodology used.
We are working in three phases. The first is exploratory, the second is creative and in the third we apply it.
In the first phase, Lotta says, it’s important to be open and above all try to discover customers’ needs, not their desires for solutions.
Henry Ford once said that if he had listened to his customers, they would want faster horses. This is the difference between listening to the needs and desires of solutions. It was the need to move faster, and nothing else. But if you start talking about solutions too soon, you can easily draw in the corner.
FlexEl and FlexRum
For Ikano Bostad, the customer-driven approach has led to many innovations that have been used in customers’ daily lives. Strategic cooperation with IKEA resulted, for example, in removable electrical outlets and similar walls.
Lots of people today live a little younger than they really want. This increases the need for flexibility. Sometimes you may need an extra room to sleep, sometimes an extra room to work in.
Removable electrical outlets were based on the fact that many customers talked about the daily struggle against wire fluctuations and sockets that never sit in the right place.
– Both solutions are used today in practice. We worked early on with 1:1 scale prototypes that customers can try out, among other things by moving into demo apartments. And after we’ve implemented the solutions in real homes, we also do follow-up visits to see how they actually work, Lotta says.
Shared living space
At the moment, BoLabb is working on a project that examines how our homes can be adapted to be shared with more people. The idea is that everyone has their own space, which may be a little smaller than usual, but in turn there are common areas, such as the living room and kitchen.
Many people today feel isolated and lack a larger community. At the same time, cities are a large part of our consumption of resources, and if we can use them more efficiently, they can have a significant climate impact.
In the first step, the project aims at single families or families of up to two people. The idea is not to create new communal collections from the 1970s – but to adapt the accommodations to what customers need today.
What we’ve seen so far is that people need society, but you don’t want it to feel compelled. We will soon start building houses in Malmö as we will explore exactly how this should be done. Lotta says just listening to you throughout the process is so important for her to be well.