Millennials and millennials-at-heart will be able to stock up on multi-functional textiles and furnishings that “satisfy their practical needs and emotional aspirations” when the long-awaited collaboration between IKEA and fashion designer Virgil Abloh arrives on our shores in little more than a week’s time.
The ambitious ethos outlined by the Swedish furniture company is in line with Abloh’s design aesthetic – simple colours and clean lines, doused in ironic and intentional design interruptions. The American fashion designer, artist, DJ and artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s men’s wear collection is best known for collaborating on the label Off-White with rapper Kayne West.
The limited collection of 15 articles will be available nationwide from 7 November and includes the MARKERAD (Swedish for ‘marked’) chair ($179), a modern, minimalist tribute to the Swedish ‘pinnstol’ made by carpenters during the 19th century with a door stop added to one of the legs to “create something unexpected”.
There’s also the “SCULPTURE” carry bags ($16.99-$19.99), which challenge the consumer to ask why a bag can’t be a work of art, and the MARKERAD mirror ($299), which has a crack in the top left corner to create visual distortion and subvert the product’s purpose.
But the most anticipated piece of the collection is “WET GRASS” ($299), a green turf rug inspired by a similar piece Abloh designed for the IKEA Art Event earlier in the year.
“In the same way you might hang a piece of artwork on your wall, art can bleed into objects like a chair, table or rug,” Abloh says.
The collaboration between the designer and IKEA was announced in 2017 when Abloh travelled to Älmhult in Sweden to develop sketches and prototypes, as well as workshop designs.
“I want each item to bring people a sense of pride, and I want the great design to be the biggest reason why you get it,” he says.
The collection is targeted at young people with the team researching what it meant to move out on your own for the first time.
“Millennials expect you to solve the function as a basic thing, and they want you to create that added value, that emotional attachment to the product,” says IKEA creative leader Henrik Most.
“When we look at millennials, we can see that they have rejected the ‘normal’ way of living. Rather than separate an apartment into different spaces, like the living room, the bedroom, the work room, for them, all activities take place in one room. That challenges the whole idea of a home.”
Alongside the furnishings, the collection includes a backlit Mona Lisa reprint, a statement on accessibility and art.
While Da Vinci’s version is shielded behind glass at the Louvre, you can get Abloh’s for $99 with a USB port to charge your iPhone. There’s also a clock bearing nothing but the words “TEMPORARY” on its face and a seven-piece toolset labelled “HOMEWORK”.
A number of pieces include Abloh’s iconic quotation marks, which the company says “adds a sense of irony and injects humour into the home”.
Speaking about the collaboration, the designer describes the process as rigorous, but in line with his democratic design principles.
“The essence of the project we’re working on is about the millennial spirit. Function is specific to every individual, but the ethos of the collection is to add an artful quality to anonymous objects,” he says.
“What’s most important to me in art and design is that the things I create have a reason for existing. Solving a need, whether it be artistic or functional, is an internal measuring stick for me, and that’s how I feel able to leave my signature on objects.”
The collection will be launched in the US a few days before it hits Australian stores, but reports are already saying customers will only be able purchase one of each of the items in the capsule.
Photos: Rasmus Weng Karlsen