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David Johansson

Product Developer, IKEA Food/Restaurant

“I see a global company that still thinks locally.”

How did you get started in IKEA and what have you done so far?
I am a chef from the start. I’ve worked in all types of restaurants. I had a chain of Swedish cafes in New York, so I’m used to bringing Swedish food to an international audience. When I moved back to Sweden I started to have the idea to work with IKEA. I contacted IKEA Food and was offered a role as a product developer for the activity range. I did that for two years and it was great, but I felt that the actual product development was too limited. So I suggested we needed someone specialised in recipe development. I got to create my own role. Today we have teams arranged much like we do for developing IKEA furniture products.

Why did you want to work with IKEA?
I wanted be able to do something on a global scale with the possibility to influence a lot of people. At IKEA we have a lot of room to play because we have a restaurant, a bistro, a Swedish food market, hot dishes, cold dishes and so on. Democratic design is for furniture, but if you think about food it’s almost the same. So we are trying to work with the things IKEA is good at and translate it to food.

What are the most inspiring responsibilities or tasks you have in your current role?
Working together with suppliers to create products is the most fun. Together we can make a difference.We’ve really just gotten started and the most exciting thing is that now it feels we are doing it.

What advice would you give someone thinking about this job?
A lot of what I do is looking at trend reports, what kinds of products we need to have and how we can translate them into an IKEA way of doing it. And then I start cooking, testing and meeting suppliers.

What is your favourite aspect of the IKEA culture and values?
I like that we think not only about the planet, but also the people. We are interested in the people behind the products we sell. We want to have healthy, happy people working with the right conditions. To look at something on a global scale like that is very unique. We keep the mentality of being local, even if we are global. We are huge, but we think quite small, which is cool. To be given the opportunity to create my own role has been the most amazing to me and that IKEA would listen to it. I’m not sure that many other companies would do that.

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