Last month, Architectural Digest India was invited to IKEA’s birthplace—Almhult, Sweden. At their yearly global press event, Democratic Design Days, we were given a behind-the-scenes preview of their product development. With a strong direction towards sustainable manufacturing, product development and promotion of renewable energy sources, IKEA showcased a wide range of offerings for the home. These are aimed at promoting a better way of living. Here are eight collaborations and projects we adore.
FORANDRING: IKEA Products
FÖRÄNDRING (‘change’ in Swedish) is a collection of boxes, baskets, mats, lamps and bowls made using recycled rice straw in North India. The straw which is destined to be burned, is a major contributor to the existing high levels on air pollution in the region. The collection aims to take action on this global environmental issue by turning leftover rice straws into raw material for prospective products. The shades of black and blue poetically illustrate the present situation of smog and air pollution; the all blue shades point towards an optimistic future.
SYMFONISK: IKEA Products
For the SYMFONISK bookshelf and table lamp speakers, IKEA and Sonos (known for their wireless smart speakers) collaborated to create a product that challenges the way we think about sound and light at home. There’s no doubt about it—SYMFONISK table lamp, which has speakers fitted in its base, is the loudest lamp by IKEA so far. The Bookshelf Speaker is extremely versatile—there are several ways it can be mounted on the wall, hung on a rail or placed horizontally and vertically. The speakers can be connected to other Sonos speakers and controlled with an app.
MUSSELBLOMMA: IKEA Products
IKEA wants to have a positive impact on the ocean, engage in projects to clean plastic pollutants and proactively prevent pollution. The MUSSELBLOMMA range consists of a bag, two cushion covers and a tablecloth in polyester fabric made from recycled PET plastic waste caught in the nets of Spanish fishermen in the Mediterranean Sea. After the collection, the plastic is aggregated in containers, and is cleaned, sorted, mechanically recycled and together with recycled PET bottles made into yarn and fabric. The fabrics feature simple and modern patterns with circles, squares and triangles combined in geometric patterns that are reflective of a fish.
ROGNAN: IKEA Products
The ROGNAN robotic furniture range was developed by IKEA in collaboration with Boston-based Ori. This was created to explore flexible and innovative solutions for booming cities where living spaces are consistently shrinking. The brand had to answer the question: how can you utilise the square metres of your home in a better way without compromising on function? ROGNAN, which is built on Ori’s robotic platform, will help people turn small spaces into smart, multi-use areas that retain all the comfort and convenience of a home. With ROGNAN, the customer gets eight extra square metres of living space. Using robotics, you can transform the space from a bedroom to walk-in closet, work space to even a living room. This all-in-one solution can be activated through a simple interface touchpad.
SAMMANKOPPLA: IKEA Products
Small spaces, tight budgets but still wish to express yourself through unique objects and designs? Their curiosity about other cultures and a quest to find a solution to space constraints led IKEA to explore a collaboration with fashion brand Greyhound Original Bangkok. The Asia-inspired SAMMANKOPPLA range by Greyhound features exquisite woven mats, homeware and a t-shirt clad chair among others.
SAMMANLÄNKAD: IKEA Products
Little Sun is a global project and social business founded by artist Olafur Eliasson and engineer Frederik Ottesen to bring sustainable, reliable, and affordable light and energy solutions to communities worldwide. IKEA and Little Sun are developing a series of products that operate on renewable energy. Reducing dependency on unreliable public infrastructure is one of the main ambitions behind this collaboration focusing on solar energy. IKEA and Little Sun have been developing solar panels that can be attached and connected to windows, charging docks and lights but can also provide solutions for active outdoor life. On ground, mainly in Sub-Saharan Africa, Little Sun distributes solar-powered products and works with local entrepreneurs to create jobs and bring sustainable energy to empower those who need it the most.
IKEA x Tom Dixon: IKEA Products
Growing your own plants and vegetables can be an inspiring way towards healthier and more sustainable food habits; this could in turn help the environment. Together with London-based industrial designer Tom Dixon, IKEA will develop new products to facilitate urban farming, both inside and outside the house. They want to challenge the way society thinks about farming in general. If more people were able to grow at least a little bit of their vegetables and greens at home, it would lead to fewer transports, lower water and food wastage. The brand is working with mock-ups, prototypes and experiments with different kinds of materials to come up with the most inspiring and versatile result. The products need to be stackable, take up minimum amount of space and be easy to move around.
‘Meatball’: IKEA Products
For 35 years, many IKEA visitors have enjoyed the iconic Swedish meatballs at the IKEA restaurants, traditionally served with cream sauce, mashed potatoes and lingonberry jam. The brand is working on developing a new meatball that looks and tastes like meat but is made from plant-based alternative proteins. The food industry is facing many challenges and often are closely connected to sustainability. Research shows that to feed the growing population, 70% more food will be needed by 2050 and the currently existing protein production cannot meet that demand. IKEA aims to serve the new plant-based meatball in all its restaurants globally. In the development process IKEA is collaborating with some of the leading suppliers within the industry, doing the first tests and tastings of the plant-based alternative protein meatball.