Hacking IKEA — Repurposing an IKEA Ice Tray

IKEA has ice trays for making ice in unusual shapes. The photos below show one of the ice trays that makes long thin ice cubes. But in this case, they should be called not “cubes” but ice sticks I guess. Anyway, when I saw them, I thought they were cool objects, and since I wasn’t sure what they were at first, I started wondering what they might be. This is one side, which you would fill with water to make ice sticks.

IKEA Ice Tray (side A) for Proximity Thinking Example

This is the other side. It’s the bottom in relation to the water-filling side, but in some of the ways I’ve used these objects, I’ve come to think of the side shown below as the top! I may add more photos/video later to show some of the ways I’ve repurposed these ice trays, but I describe them in the mind map farther down this page.

IKEA Ice Tray (side B) for Proximity Thinking Example

The mind map below explores this situation. It describes some ways to repurpose these ice trays, and shows how some proximity thinking was used. Click the image below to open it full-size. Once open, you can zoom it even larger.

Since search engines can’t index the text in an image, I’m including the text from the graphic below. However, I’d recommend only looking at the graphic, as it will make a lot more sense. Also, WordPress is adding some blank lines in the outline below, and I can’t fix it. So please imagine there are no blank lines!

• A proximity thinking example, including a few basic definitions. To learn more, visit proxthink.com.
• Situation – A “situation” is whatever you are dealing with or considering.
• Element – Loosely, an “element” can be anything. Any person, place, thing, idea, feeling, time, group, relationship, situation, proximity, etc.
• Proximity – The “proximity” consists of elements related or potentially related to a situation, in physical, mental and other ways.

    Repurposing an IKEA Ice Tray

    Elements in the proximity
    of this situation.

    • It’s a cool, modern,
      sleek object.

      • Both sides are usable
        and look good.
    • Cheap ($0.99),
      durable and
    • It doesn’t really
      look like an ice tray!
    • It has gooves and slots.
    • What uses do the shapes of
      the ice tray suggest?

      • Business cards stand.
      • Postcard stand.
      • Place for pens or things that
        might roll off the table.
    • What things in your life
      might go with this object?

      • Becomes place for
        keys, wallet,
        chapstick, coins, etc.
      • Becomes a stand for your mobile phone
        at night. (Can flip ice tray either way.)
    • What other objects can it
      be combined with?

      • Combine with stainless utensil holder ($3-$6 at
        IKEA) to make a little table with storage inside.
      • Combine ice tray with metal fence pole
        tops or other items to make a sculpture!
      • Use ice tray as base for upside down pencil
        holder, which then becomes a stand for my clock.
    • How can you repurpose
      IKEA ice trays?

      • And what proximity
        thinking did you do?
    • How was proximity
      thinking used here?

      • ProxPatterns
        • ProxAwareness
          • Becoming aware of the different characteristics of the ice tray,
            and elements in your life it might go with or combine with.
        • Relate a Variety
          • Being open to unusual combinations, and a wide of variety of different combinations.
        • Allow Uncertainty
          • Just trying things and seeing what happens, then adjusting or adapting as needed.
        • Honor Integrity
          • Honoring the shapes and characteristics of the ice tray. Respecting what they can do and cannot do.
        • Introduce Related
          • Introducing other objects into the proximity which are related in some way.

• Questions? Contact us via proxthink.com.
• Created by David Loughry.
• As you find this rewarding, please proxri with the proximity in mind via proxthink.com.

How to make an ergonomic pillow from a blanket when you are traveling.

Enjoying this post, or using it? Consider a proxri. Thank you!


I didn’t create this innovation, but I helped trigger it through the use of two ProxPatterns. It also illustrates how it can take multiple people to innovate. I’ll tell you the story first, and then mention the proximity thinking involved.

I use an ergonomic pillow at home, but don’t travel with it. I’ve never found a hotel that offers them. I was in Denver at a hotel, needed an extra blanket, and went to the front desk. After I got the blanket, I thought, hey, it never hurts to ask, so I said, “This is going to be a crazy question, but by any chance do you have an ergonomic pillow?”

The front desk clerk said, “What’s an ergonomic pillow?” I explained it to him, and drew a shape in the air that shows the side of an ergonomic pillow. And he said, “Oh, I know what those are. Those are cool.” Then he went back into the supply room.

When he came back, he had one of those foamy blankets folded inside a pillowcase. He said “Would this help?” I said, “Yeah, maybe, thanks so much! That’s a great idea!” It wasn’t exactly the right shape, but the basic idea was born.

In the hotel room, I experimented and tweaked it. I found that with a different blanket, and a different way of folding it, I could mimic the shape and firmness of my ergonomic pillow at home.

The photo you see is after four nights of sleeping on the pillow. It was the best four nights of sleep I think I’ve had in a hotel. I thank that hotel clerk and the Drury Inn. I wonder if they encourage this kind of customer service from their staff?

Obviously, my tweaking of the clerk’s idea didn’t take any great talent. But asking him the question about whether they had ergonomic pillows was the result of two ProxPatterns I often use. One is seeking greater ProxAwareness. The other is allowing some uncertainty in asking a dumb question.

This led in turn to examples of two other ProxPatterns. The front desk clerk was seeking to honor the integrity of my request. He did this partly by ProxAwareness of the available resources. And partly by relating a wider variety of elements than normal, those elements being pillowcases and blankets. Normally, blankets don’t go inside pillowcases, but the clerk was able not only to consider it, but try it too, which is a great example of relating a variety.

Of course he didn’t consciously use those ProxPatterns. But I have found that useful and/or interesting ideas and processes often exhibit ProxPatterns.

Enjoying this post, or using it? Consider a proxri. Thank you!