Designing Flat-Pack goods

Can someone list pros (and cons, if any) to designing flat packed goods? esp. furniture.

Is it trendy and/or simply practical? Like for shelf display purposes?

Does it REALLY cost a whole lot less to ship something that’s flat compared to shipping the item fully-assembled?

Some people don’t like having to assemble things that they buy.

(my apologies if there’s already a thread about this… i tried a search and wasn’t able to locate one.)

dude, you should have went to the Blu dot presentation at the idsa Midwest conference. A lot of it was about their flat pack stuff and how much money it saves.

you should have went to the Blu dot presentation at the idsa Midwest conference.

Blu Dot, eh? probably was a “REAL GOOD” :laughing: learning opportunity. too bad i missed it!!

I will have to say, that learning to design things that do indeed pack flat is a fun challenge… It throws in a very interesting constraint to the overall design process. I think the challenge I like best, is coming up with something that not only arrives flat, but also looks unique as well.

on a side note, their one product, the Buttercup chair is awesome. Something so desirable about beautifully molded plywood. The rocker model is pretty sweet too!

It’s pretty easy to see how the numbers add up. Just go to any number of shipping sites and use their estimate calculators.

Enter a bunch of different packages the same size and different weights. Then enter a bunch of different sizes with the same weight. You’ll find out pretty quickly that size affects the cost more than weight. So the fastest way to save on shipping costs is to ship as little free space as possible. That’s why flat pack works so well.


I went to a talk with Blu Dot at the Walker Art Center a few years ago.

What I found interesting was that the flat-pack thing only came about so that they could use more of the material they were buying and waste less of it. Then, shipping became a concern to keep their own costs down.

Slightly - off-topic but Unto This Last ( ) in London are quite an interesting company to look at as well. All stuff is CNC-ed ply sheet.

One CNC, one material (ply - in white/dark (!) or ‘natural’), one shop. Cheap, cheerful, and some intersting stuff.

Also, with fuel prices increasing steadily, shipping costs will probably become an even greater consideration in the future. I’d say anyone interested in designing mass-manufactured furniture is well advised to learn as much about flat pack as they can.

thanks a lot everyone who replied!

purplepeopledesign: thanks for the tip about exploring various shipping costs online! i see the difference in shipping sizes now.

georgeous: really dig that “facet” chair. cnc works wonders… doesn’t it?!