For years I've had a love/hate relationship with IKEA. In the 90's when the stuff first started to appear I always thought of it as cheap dorm furniture that was not made to last. To some extent I still feel that way about many of their furniture products, but over the years I have found a place for their hardware and cabinetry.
In some ways I feel like IKEA has become the new hardware store. When I was a kid we went to Scotty's Lumber and bought pre-fab paneling pieces that snapped together to make 70's style rooms. Kitchen cabinetry has always been sort of modular too, it's the counter top that always brings it all together. IKEA now works in the same way. You go to the hardware store and buy the units that you customize for your need.
One of the things I find interesting about IKEA cabinetry is the intersection of the prefab with the existing infrastructure. You know, that big whole you have to cut into the back of the cabinet to fit the pipes that hopefully will never be seen. Michel has a small IKEA kitchen reno job I helped him with this week, the intersection of existing and new was the hack. The intersection of the old with the new is what took the time.
Along the way a friend introduced me to the site IKEAhackers.net. In perusing the posts I realized that the IKEA maker potential is infinite.
Here's the thing to consider though, the digital manufacturing (flat pack cnc cutting with very little waste), means with very little effort the design can be modified without having to retool any of the machinery that manufactures it. It just as easy for them to make 100,000's as it is to make 10.
Grabbing at a lot of ideas from Chris Anderson's "Makers: The New Industrial Revolution" go with me on this, rather than going to IKEA to buy the modules and then customizing them, there may come a day soon where you can upload the modification you want made and have it shipped pre-cut and ready to assemble to your specification, for no extra cost.