The other week I went to Älmhult in Sweden, the birthplace of IKEA, for the company’s Democratic Design Day 2017. This annual global event is used as a platform to invite press into their ‘house of curiosity’ and reveal all the latest news and future collaborations and collections coming up. And let me tell you, there’s lots to look forward to!
IKEA has always had the aim of making design accessible for the many. It’s something I really believe in too – design that is not an elitist thing only a few can afford, but something everyone can tap into. Now their design process is based on five key pillars: Form, Function, Quality, Sustainability and Affordability – a common language through the company to measure what is good in design. It informs every product right from the beginning, to ensure IKEA keeps pushing for simpler, smarter, and better looking objects for the home. This means they want to combine beautiful form with good function, long-lasting quality, produced in a sustainable value chain with a low price.
Says Marcus Engman, Head of Design at IKEA: ‘Democratic Design is more than a catchphrase, it influences every step of the design process. Democratic Design is the back-bone of IKEA, its heart and soul. It’s our tool to fulfil our vision – to create a better everyday life for the many people.’
In the past, not every IKEA product lived up to the five principles of Democratic Design – an inflatable sofa they designed, for example, was so light it would drift across the floor. Now they’re refining their manifesto, each year taking away products that don’t live up to their principles. Engman says their challenge isn’t selling more products to the same people, but enhancing the lives of everyone, and not just in the Western world.
It’s intriguing then to see them reaching out to new audiences, whether it’s young fashion-minded teenagers in America or local artisans, architects and designers in Africa. Here I’m sharing my favourite collaborations for 2017/18 and some very exciting new announcements for 2019…
This was one of my absolute favourites of the new collections. Designed by Warsaw-based Studio Ganszyniec, who also created this gorgeous bench and these terracotta dishes for IKEA in 2016, HJÄRTELIG is a new bedroom collection that engages the senses with organic materials.
IKEA is exploring new ways of using natural materials such as rattan, linen, cotton, cork and solid pine. Boxes from the collection, for example, are made from old seagrass found floating in rivers in Vietnam, while the linen fabric is made from the stem of the flax plant, rather than the top part more often used.
I was really intrigued by this collection because it takes into account not just appearance – the team behind HJÄRTELIG is also concerned with creating atmosphere in the bedroom, with multifunctional beds for sound sleeping, yoga equipment for mindful workouts, air purifying house plants for high-quality air and tea light holders for a serene, calming ambience.
Available for a limited time from April 2018.
All images for HJÄRTELIG here my own
British designer Tom Dixon has designed a new modular bed-sofa called DELAKTIG. With many people living in smaller and smaller homes, it’s designed to be long-lasting, adaptable and customisable, so you might start with one platform, then choose add-ons for your changing needs. In Swedish the name means ‘being involved’ – DELAKTIG is an open platform that inspires people to make it their own.
Tom Dixon likens its shape to the iPhone – the platform features a frame made of strong, lightweight aluminium. Various pillows, side tables, lamps and a headboard can be added to the frame.
IKEA also invited 75 students from the Royal College of Art, Parsons School of Design and Musashino University to challenge the design and take the idea even further. From hundreds of ideas, IKEA chose a solution by a RCA student to put into production – a connection that means the platforms can be combined to make long snaking sections using DELAKTIG modules.
DELAKTIG collection will launch in February 2018.
Above image my own
Comprised of 72 pieces, YPPERLIG is a collection of understated yet contemporary staples that explore the functional and emotional needs of the modern home. From day-beds and sofas, through cushions and candleholders, to shelving and stools, the collection combines technical innovation with simple, pared-back design.
YPPERLIG collection will launch in October 2017.
IKEA designers are collaborating with 12 young African designers, architects and creatives to create their first African collection, ÖVERALLT. They first met them at Design Indaba, one of the world’s leading design events in Cape Town, South Africa.
‘The creative explosion that is taking place in several cities around Africa right now is something IKEA is curious about,’ says Marcus Engman. ‘We want to learn from this and spread it to the rest of the world.’
IKEA began its research by asking people around the world what elements make up a home. Four main areas — place, space, things and relations — were revealed and it was decided the new collection would focus around the rituals we all make everyday in our homes. In Älmhult, we got to take a peek behind the scenes in the prototype lab (seen below) where the designers were starting to make their ideas a reality.
ÖVERALLT collection will be available for a limited time in 2019.
All images for ÖVERALLT my own.
IKEA’s FRAKTA bag is an iconic part of the company – that famous blue polypropylene bag we all know and love. This year IKEA presented an innovative take on the bag, using discarded crisp bags!
Designed by Mariam Hazem and Hend Riad of Reform Studio, each silver FRAKTA bag is the equivalent of 32 crisp bags.
They say: ‘We believe that design can solve stubborn problems and thus we started from a major issue in Egypt: waste. Re-form is an umbrella of many ‘Re’s’– we see design as a recreation of an existing idea, a redevelopment of objects, reusing of materials, reviving of cultures and reforming our world.’
The bag will be launched in 2019.
IKEA has teamed up with Dutch designer Piet Hein Eek, known for skilled craftmanship and unique scrap wood furniture, to explore whether it’s possible to mass produce unique items. The new collection celebrates imperfections by producing objects that are more tactile and human. Variations in designs, pattern, colour and natural materials are allowed to manifest themselves rather than be disguised or perfected.
‘It turned out that IKEA had thought about the same thing for ages – how to make objects feel more human and more personal while still having an industrial production process,’ Piet says. ‘When you work together, you invest in, and learn from, each other.’
‘Part of my focus has been on reducing waste during production,’ he add. ‘Take the shelves, for example – they’re made from precisely one wood sheet each. The only leftover is dust. It’s the same way I always work, but this is on a different scale. I think it’s beautiful.’
INDUSTRIELL collection will launch in April 2018.
IKEA social entrepreneurs
For the past four years IKEA has been collaborating with social entrepreneurs as a way to design for long-term and create sustainable social change for vulnerable communities. The aim is to share ideas and create a better everyday life for more of the many.
Partnering with skilled artisans, IKEA has created four handmade, limited edition collections that are being produced in four different parts of the world: EFTERTANKE, HEMVIST, INNEHÅLLSRIK and one in Jordan, that is yet to be named.
EFTERTANKE, for example, is being created in the mountains of northern Thailand with the social enterprise Doi Tung Development Project, which works to protect the local environment and contribute to the economic empowerment of tribal women. That collection will comprise handmade paper, hand-woven textiles in rich patterns and ceramics.
The HEMVIST collection in solid wood and wicker is created together with Romano ButiQ, a social enterprise in Romania, while the INNEHÅLLSRIK collection marries Scandinavian design and traditional Indian handicraft techniques.
EFTERTANKE collection will be available in selected stores October 2017, HEMVIST and INNEHÅLLSRIK during the spring of 2018.
Above image my own
US fashion designer Chris Stamp has created the new limited-edition SPÄNST collection, targeting active, young people. His label, Stampd, is known for its minimal, street-savvy designs and black and white aesthetic, which is translated into perspex storage boxes, black mesh wardrobes, and even a lightsaber-esque lamp. I can really see these in a teenager’s bedroom.
‘Being a curious company, IKEA always wants to explore areas where we haven’t been before. By collaborating with a fashion designer like Chris Stamp we can bring the inspiration of streetwear into home furnishing,’ says Henrik Most, Creative Leader for the upcoming collection. ‘Together with Chris we want to create a special place for showing and storing favourite things, like favourite sneakers or jackets in the home, and in a way that shows the uniqueness of the many people.’
SPÄNST collection will be available for a limited time from May 2018.
And, the most exciting of all…
Ben Gorham of BYREDO
IKEA announced that they will be exploring the use of scent in the home with Ben Gorham, founder of cult fragrance brand BYREDO. Their scented candles and perfumes are something of a legend and I can’t wait for this one.
Gotham is particularly fascinated by the connection between scent and memory. This collaboration aims at looking into both the role of scent in the home, the carriers and the products as well as exploring innovation in scent, and how it can be integrated in completely new ways.
‘At IKEA we are curious about the senses and the importance they play for people to feel at home. We know that scents can help us create a feeling of safety and intimacy, but what does home smell like? And how can smell be communicated beyond scented candles?’, says Marcus Engman.
‘We live in a very aesthetic world. Design is more accessible than ever, we learn as children about the names of colours, shapes, how to count, how to read. You learn about apparel and furniture, we use the internet every day which is endless in terms of altering our visual perception. I feel people just don’t reflect enough when it comes to scent, but smell is a very relevant part of our life and also the home. To collaborate on this idea of “invisible design” with IKEA, getting people to think about smell is very exciting. I enjoy their openness to new ideas and the experimental nature of what we’re doing’, says Gorham.
The collection is planned to launch during 2019.
This isn’t every collection coming up, but just a selection of my favourites that I think you will love to0, I hope you enjoyed them – start writing your shopping list!
Images: IKEA, and my own where indicated