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Ikea’s most-hyped collaboration yet is finally here

Prepare your credit card: Ikea’s Virgil Abloh collaboration will drop more than a year after the designer and artist first gave fans a sneak peek.

As a designer, Virgil Abloh is fascinated with taking things out of context, prompting his audience to rethink everyday objects. That’s exactly what he does with his much-anticipated 15-piece collection he designed for Ikea, which drops in stores on November 1, 2019.

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Take, for instance, the Ikea receipt, which is instantly recognizable to anybody who has ever set foot in the Swedish furniture store.

The piece of paper has the brand’s logo in bold print on top, a bar code, and frayed edges from where the paper is torn off the roll. Most of us don’t really pay attention to the design of our receipts: We stuff them in our wallet, in case we ever need to return something. But Abloh transforms the humble Ikea receipt into a work of art in the form of a low-pile 3-by-7-foot rug that costs $99. And in an even more meta twist, the receipt lists the rug as the item purchased.

“The receipt is a trademark in itself that has been transformed into art,” Abloh explains in a statement. “I think that this rug can just as easily be on a floor or hung on the wall—in both scenarios, the rug highlights the entire story which Ikea embodies.”

This Ikea line will be called Markerad, which means “clear-cut,” “crisp,” or “pronounced” in Swedish, hinting at Abloh’s approach to design. In contrast to Abloh’s luxury streetwear brand Off-White, the Ikea partnership will be an opportunity for fans to get their hands on products designed by Abloh at an affordable price point.

Many are emblazoned with Abloh’s instantly recognizable graphic application of all-caps type with quotation marks: There’s a shopping bag that comes in two sizes ($19.99 for the medium and $24.99 for the large) emblazoned with the words “SCULPTURE” on it, a $249 dark green rug that sports the words “WET GRASS” and happens to look an awful lot like wet grass. The quotes are designed to challenge the meaning of those words. “There’s always an underlying message in my creations,” Abloh says in the item description of the green rug. “A little bit of irony—and a human connection.”

[Photo: Ikea]
Other items in the collection offer Abloh’s take on conventional, everyday furniture items. There’s a simple $399 table and $149 chair made of light beech wood. There’s a $199 glass door cabinet and a $199 day bed with a $130 cover. All of these pieces are inspired by 1950s Scandinavian modernism and are designed to be simple to assemble. For instance, you can click the legs into the table in just one step using a wedge-dowel fitting, without needing to use any tools. (This will come as a relief to people like me who find complex assembly of Ikea products terrifying.)

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This partnership with Abloh was designed specifically with millennial homeowners in mind, according to the official Ikea announcement. Abloh is, after all, one of the best known designers among this particular generation. Last year, he was named the artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear line, while continuing to collaborate with many other brands through his Off-White label.

In keeping with Abloh’s genius for drumming up hype, he’s been teasing this collaboration for months. In late April of 2018, he gave fans a sneak peek of the new line by live-streaming product prototypes on social media from an undisclosed location in New York. In May 2019, Ikea dropped one limited-edition item from the line, a $499 rug that looked like a Persian carpet, except that it had the words “Keep Off” on it.

[Photo: Ikea]

Ikea clearly expects droves of Abloh fans to show up to purchase these limited-edition products: The company says that stores will begin selling these items at 10 a.m. on November 1 in each store’s respective time zone, and it will allow customers to line up in front of the store beginning at 7 a.m. (camping or overnight parking, it notes, will not be permitted).

If lining up for three hours to get your hands on affordably priced Abloh-designed products seems like a long time, consider the statement that Abloh makes with a round white $49.99 clock he made for the collection. It features the word “TEMPORARY” on the glass, casting a shadow on the clock that moves around depending on where sunlight appears on it. Those waiting in line can ponder the fleeting nature of time before they get their hands on the clock of their dreams.

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About the author

Elizabeth Segran, Ph.D., is a staff writer at Fast Company. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts

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