Swedish furniture behemoth Ikea—and its expansive collection of prefabricated pieces—are practically omnipresent in homes around the world.The company made roughly $43 billion in global revenue last year selling inexpensive sofas, stools, tables, and even smart home tech. The drawback to Ikea’s ubiquity, of course, is the risk that your living room could end up looking exactly like someone else’s.
Ikea’s stronghold on the home design and furnishing industry isn’t likely to loosen up anytime soon, and over the past few years, a slew of startups have popped up to offer ways to alter or customize the company’s designs. Historically, design-savvy consumers would personalize their own products—a do-it-yourself trend known as “Ikea hacking”—to guard against identical living spaces. But new studios like Norse Interiors, Reform, and Panyl are specializing in offering Ikea customers design services that help distinguish their Hemnes dresser, for example, from someone else’s.
The latest is Hølte, a London-based studio founded by collaborators Tom and Fi Ginnett in 2017, which offers a high-end version of this aftermarket alteration practice. Unlike its competitors, the company recently even opened a proper design showroom for its products, setting up shop in east London. The showroom offers a curated yet authentic look at how Hølte’s products transform decidedly neutral Ikea products. The kitchen on display is fully functional, and the dining space is primed to host meetings and events.
“We wanted everything to have a purpose and ensure that nothing was purely for display,” Fi Ginnett, cofounder of Hølte’s Hackney design studio, told Dezeen. “The working kitchen and big dining table are used day-to-day for team lunches and client meetings, but are also there to be used for pop-ups, supper clubs and other events.”
Throughout the space, Hølte’s boldly colored handles, countertop surfaces, and hand-finished cabinet fronts (which are custom designed for Ikea’s Metod modular kitchen line) upgrade Ikea’s formula into inspired bespoke pieces. The result? A bright and unique take on Ikea’s functional staples.