Eldar Yusupov is a Tel Aviv, Israel–based copywriter with cerebral palsy. In 2017 he happened to mention to his bosses at McCann that the low height of the office couch made it very difficult for him to get up. He liked the Ikea couch, and if it were just a few inches taller, he told them, he would probably even buy one for his own apartment, where most of the furniture is specifically made for a disabled person—and much of it is expensive and unappealing.
That conversation sparked more discussion, and eventually, over the next two years, led to ThisAbles, a collaboration between McCann, Ikea, and Israeli disability rights groups to make the Scandinavian company’s iconic home furnishings—couches, dressers, cabinets, lamps, and even shower curtains—more accessible via open-source, 3D-printable add-ons that can be used with non-Ikea items as well. (Ikea already produces a selection of accessible items, such as tables tall enough for wheelchair seating.)
The 3D-printing technology, now widely available at maker labs, print shops, libraries, and retailers, “allowed us to make it local and global at the same time, and not wait for mass production,” says Michal Popov, McCann Tel Aviv’s CFO. “It’s not a campaign. It’s something here to stay.”
With 15 percent of the global population having some form of disability, the impact of this could be huge.