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Ikea debuts its least Ikea-like collection yet

“Pretty, ugly, lovely.” That’s how the Swedish furniture giant describes its new collection with artist Per B Sundberg.

Gone are the days of associating Ikea with sensible minimalism for the masses—at least, partly. The Swedish furnishings giant has been going hard on buzzy, left-field collaborations this year, announcing works with fashion figures like Virgil Abloh to Bea Akerlund and commissioning a series of “Ikea-hacked” designs from more established product designers like the Dutch studio Scholten & Baijings.

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Now, the company is debuting a collaboration that it outright describes as “maximalist,” selling customers on the promise of decorative objets that ditch the mass-manufactured factory aesthetic for the wabi-sabi spirit of handmade collectibles. In Ikea’s own words: These are “pretty, ugly, lovely objects” that you may become endeared to.

[Photo: Ikea]

Launching next month, the limited-edition collection Föremål (Swedish for “subject”) features designs by the renowned glass and ceramics artist Per B Sundberg. The highbrow maker’s highly intricate, sculptural works are celebrated and exhibited in museums worldwide, yet he’s not precious about the endeavor: “I enjoy doing different things and try to fight with people’s expectations,” said the artist. “Now I can make a tray that is industrially produced and sold for around $10, which makes my things accessible to a big audience. I like the democratic aspect of that.”

Per B Sundberg [Photo: Ikea]

Smaller items, priced at under $30, include dainty, poodle-shaped candlestick holders cast in aluminum and steel, and playful vases shaped in the shape of mushrooms, bananas, and skulls. Larger items, including cushion covers, rugs, throws, and storage boxes feature dark and moody kaleidoscopic graphic patterns evoking the baroque. Indeed, Ikea is hoping to conjure up the feeling of “future antiques” that might become beloved keepsake heirlooms, rather than disposable fast-fashion items.

[Photo: Ikea]
“Each piece of the Föremål collection is different, representing more than function and going beyond reason,” the company writes in its marketing materials.

A book of Sunberg’s work will also be published as part of the collection, with a foreword from the company’s head of design Marcus Engman. While “the big design brand and the rebel artist” may have little in common, Engman conceded, “we have the same curiosity. And we are driven by the same desire to challenge the accepted. We are as eager as each other when it comes to researching the unknown.”

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About the author

Aileen Kwun is a writer based in New York City. She is the author of Twenty Over Eighty: Conversations On a Lifetime in Architecture and Design (Princeton Architectural Press), and was previously a senior editor at Dwell and Surface.

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