The EDEN dining table was part of the 2005 IKEA PS collection, and fit nicely with the ambition of offering innovative, exciting home furnishing ideas that made everyday life at home a little easier. The designers were urged to ask the question “What if…?”, and to have the courage to experiment and test new materials, techniques and production methods.
EDEN was designed by Jon Karlsson, an architect who had studied at Lund University, and who in 2003 started as a designer at IKEA of Sweden in Älmhult. The question “What if…?” led him to an innovative way of using birch wood. In most traditional production, only about 10–20% of the wood felled for furniture production was used. But even back in the 1970s, Ingvar Kamprad had decided that IKEA would also use the ‘knotty’ pine. Even so, it was still mainly the lightest pieces that were used, both by IKEA and other furniture makers. In the late 1990s, a few years before Jon Karlsson designed the EDEN dining table, product developer Roland Johnsson and designer Mikael Warnhammar at IKEA felt that this was a waste of resources. So they developed a way of using more of the birch, and called it ‘knotty birch’. Mikael used this for the first time in his NORDEN dining table, which was launched in 2000.
Now, Jon Karlsson wanted to take the next step. He focused on heartwood – the innermost, red-brown heart of the birch log, that was usually only used for firewood, or for pallets and sofa frames. Using a new technique, Jon made it possible to also use the heartwood to make furniture.
Jon remembers: “I started from the birch heartwood. By making the table top in two parts, there was less tension in the wood. And you could use the space between the two parts to draw cables, if you wanted to use it as a desk. In actual fact, the table started out as a sketch for a bench, which definitely affected the shape. At a narrow table, you sit closer to the person opposite you, like at a café. It ended up being a long, narrow family table with a café feel.”
Wood that had previously gone to waste had now become a table with a top in solid oiled wood and black turned legs. The table came with a tray stand and was presented in the 2007 IKEA catalogue.