The world mostly knows IKEA for its flatpack furniture and mediocre meatballs. In the past year, however, the company's doubled down on a new category: gadgets. And you know what? They're kind of awesome.
Over in the UK, IKEA just announced its new mid-year line, and a lot of it is what you'd expect from IKEA in the upcoming American summertime. There are brightly coloured pillows and dishes alongside some pots and outdoor rugs.
Then things get weird — and wonderful. When I visited the IKEA headquarters last year, one executive told me that the company was interested in expanding into the gadget business, but only if it could do interesting things. At that point in time, IKEA had already released a versatile wireless charging system that could be installed in any piece of furniture, and I caught a sneak peek at a smart lighting system that could become an ultra-cheap Philips Hue competitor.
IKEA's foray into lighting continues with a series of solar-powered lights for the outdoors. You can get a two-pack of floor lamps, that wacky cylinder lamp, and the half-dome. My favourite are the floor lamps because they're designed to look like rocks:
Solvinden LED Solar Powered Lights
IKEA also wants to get into the barbecue business. They're now selling a hefty but affordable charcoal grill, as well as a portable charcoal oven.
Äpplarö Charcoal Grill ($US110 ($144)) and Storage Cabinet ($US100 ($131))
Korpön Portable Charcoal Grill ($US17 ($22))
What's probably the most mind-boggling addition to the IKEA inventory is an indoor hydroponic garden. It includes everything you need to grow a salad in your kitchen without soil.
Add the seeds to starter pods and then install them in the garden. After they sprout, you transfer the plants to a pot filled with ultra-absorbent pumice stones. Then just water your little babies and watch them grow. This video explains it all:
Of course, there's a catch. All of the new summer products are available for a limited time. Even more of a bummer is the fact that the indoor gardening system is only available in the United Kingdom. IKEA did confirm it expects to launch the product in the US by spring 2017 — but no word yet on Australia.