From the Billy bookcase to the Poäng chair, the iconic designs of IKEA have spent so much time in our houses, they might as well start chipping in on the rent.
And whilst the beloved Swedish giant might be home to flat packs, meatballs, and free pencils (IKEA, if you’re reading this: sorry), it has also carved quite the legacy within the art and fashion industry. Side note: remember Demna Gvasalia’s $2,000 Balenciaga dupe of the Frakta bag?
Alongside the annual IKEA Art Event, which invites a series of visionaries to create homeware designs, the brand often commissions designers to form a limited collection of affordable, cult pieces. A strategy which has created fresh relevance for the classic brand, here are our top picks of IKEA’s ingenious collaborations.
Daniel Arsham’s ‘Quiet Manipulations’
Part of the 2021 Art Event, Daniel Arsham created a clock-sculpture hybrid which offered a physical interpretation of the metaphor ‘time flies’. The New York-based artist often plays with the concept of time (previous exhibits include ‘Connecting Time’ and ‘Time Dilation’), making the design an authentic piece of functional art. This year’s Art Event also included work from Sabine Marcelis, Stefan Marx, Humans since 1982, and Gelchop.
Launched in 2019, Virgil Abloh brought OFF-WHITE’s industrial aesthetic and signature “quotations” to a series of designs, most notably a giant receipt rug – which Abloh felt captured ‘the entire story which IKEA embodies’. Originally priced between $9.99 and $349, the collection of rugs, shopping bags, tables, chairs, and clocks eventually ended up in the hands of resellers, who asked for hundreds more.
Little Sun’s ‘SAMMANLÄNKAD’
You might be more familiar with artist Olafur Eliasson’s viral installations (remember that time in 2019 when you couldn’t scroll on Insta without seeing someone in an orange-hued room at the Tate?), but his social enterprise Little Sun has collaborated with IKEA to create a series of helpful solar gadgets. Due to launch this year, the collection will harness the power of sunshine in order to ‘light up spaces and charge our mobile devices’.
Saint Heron’s ‘GÅTFULL’
Solange Knowles’ creative collective Saint Heron (who work with a series of mediums including sculpture, ceramics, music, and performance art) are due to showcase their IKEA collaboration later this year. A functional homeware series inspired by the ‘scarce’ living space in cities, the collection is said to explore ‘time, space, light and matter’ whilst deepening the aesthetic value of usable, everyday items.
An expert in storage, IKEA is nothing if not helpful – however, they are yet to delve into the abundant industry of at-home exercise. That is, until now. Teaming up with heritage activewear label adidas, the 2021 collaboration is set to ‘enable healthy habits at home’, with a specific focus on finding solutions to working out in limited space and avoiding neighbour disturbance.
D Double E’s ‘Fresh N Clean (Silence the Critics)’
It might not have been a physical collaboration but it was certainly an iconic one, as grime pioneer D Double E provided the soundtrack for IKEA’s first ever UK Christmas advert in 2019. During the track, D Double E referenced the many objects in a family’s home during the festive season, with tongue-in-cheek lyrics such as: ‘Those curtains are looking tired, Decorations are tired, Look your stylist’s fired’. The advert was a welcome departure from tired holiday clichés, with IKEA hitting the mark with its cultural relevance.
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