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This Is The Ugliest Collection Ikea Has Ever Released

Oh my god, Ikea. No.

Ikea is synonymous with clean, simple Scandinavian design at an incredibly low price. But the company’s latest collection is a far cry from the serene and functional aesthetic that populates the first apartments of young urban dwellers the world over. It is loud, it is full of color–specifically, red, white, and black–and it features a faux leopard-print rug. It is Ikea at its most maximalist–and its most silly.

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[Photo: Ikea]
The collection, called Omedelbar–which translates as “immediate” and is supposed to connote rule-smashing–is the result of a collaboration between Ikea and the stylist and costume designer Bea Åkerlund, who’s worked with the likes of Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, and Madonna. The collection’s most iconic pieces are a red lips-shaped pillow, mesh jewelry holders that look like fishnet gloves, and a giant pocket watch turned wall clock that’s straight out of Alice in Wonderland.

But do you really want the Mad Hatter’s aesthetic in your living room? The collection is a travesty of both function and form. Can you imagine Ikea selling drinking glasses that have lipstick smudges painted on them in any other context? It’s like the Swedish furniture giant has decided to take us all back to the 1980s, putting its design stamp of approval on Åkerlund’s brand of over-the-top rock star glam.

But the real question is: Who is going to buy any of this? Surely not Åkerlund’s wealthy pop star clients, who might have enough space in their homes to dedicate whole rooms to fluffy interior design absurdity. And the rest of us Ikea shoppers certainly don’t have the space in our tiny apartments for things like $75 “valet stands” on which to display our clothing or giant, LED-lit lamps in the shape of the letter “B.”

[Photo: Ikea]
The rip-roaring ethos of the limited-edition collection, which will be available in U.S. stores in mid-February, is best understood through the promotional photoshoot Ikea put together to debut it. Against a backdrop of black-and-white stripes, Åkerlund poses in fabulous outfits, lounging amid piles of red lips throw pillows and peering into the depths of a top hat glass vase that she’s turned into a fishbowl. They look dramatic and fun in photos–even though this kind of design may be more at home on the red carpet or a circus than in anyone’s home. In another, she holds a gold, crown-shaped bowl above her head; it is unclear whether it would be possible to eat soup between the receptacle’s spikes.

Perhaps the most interesting object in the collection is the sculptural mesh hand that’s meant to be wall art or a jewelry holder, or both. Because the intricacy of the mesh design was too expensive to be manufactured through traditional means, Ikea decided to 3D-print it instead, making it the company’s first mass-produced 3D-printed product. But it certainly wasn’t Åkerlund’s boldest idea, who was unfortunately forced to limit her imagination to the constraints of the modern supply chain. “Ikea has a lot of guidelines when it comes to packaging and transportation, so that idea of creating a huge shoe-sofa, unfortunately, got scrapped,” Åkerlund says in an interview with Ikea about the collection.

While you can’t get that magical shoe-sofa, never fear–you can settle for a shoe vase instead. Despite the collection’s obscene lack of anything resembling practical design, one thing’s for sure: Omedelbar truly is an antidote to the classic, clean-lined Ikea we’ve known for decades.

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About the author

Katharine Schwab is an associate editor based in New York who covers technology, design, and culture.

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