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IKEA announces new collaborations at Democratic Design Days

IKEA’s Democratic Design Days 2018 took place on the 7th and 8th of June in Älmhult, Sweden. The annual event gives attendees the opportunity to get behind the scenes of IKEA design and product development, learn about the company’s culture and design philosophies and be the first to find out about its new partnerships. Democratic Design Days takes place in the very heart of IKEA, close to where the first store opened, and is live-streamed. In addition to the above, this year’s attendees got a sneak peak of upcoming collections and products and were introduced to some very exciting collaborations:


adidas: IKEA wants to explore how homes can better enable active lifestyles and will team up with the sportswear giant to explore the connections between living spaces and sport, and how both can adapt to help create healthy life-long habits. This will involve spending time in the homes of people in different countries and different life stages – with a particular focus on young women – in order to learn more about how people live and why some are more active than others. The partnership will bring designers from both companies together to exchange knowledge, insights and ideas to imagine ways to make working out at home easier.


According to Marcus Engman, Head of Design at IKEA Range & Supply, “Teaming up with adidas, we want to understand what wellness means to different people, and what role their living spaces play in this. By doing so, we can create homes that are better designed to enable better habits and more active living.”


LEGO: IKEA and the LEGO Group know that play is an important part of life and believe in its power as it is key to development, enabling creativity, exploration, experimentation, imagination and discovery. The two companies have joined forces to encourage more play and remove barriers for play – grown-ups think that playing creates mess; children think that grown-ups try to impose too much order in the play environment; many children want more playtime with their parent; almost all parents believe that play is essential to wellbeing and happiness.


“In the LEGO Group our mission has always been to inspire and develop children through play, and there’s an exciting and fun challenge in finding a solution that can encourage more creative LEGO play while at the same time pleasing the parent’s interest in the household’s look and feel to enable children and their parents to play together. We know that creativity is a critical skill needed for the future, but we also know that tinkering, experimenting, being creative and trying out new things can be messy. In our collaboration with IKEA we therefore wish to deal with the challenge that some parents might have with the – wonderful – mess that play creates,” says Lena Dixen, Senior Vice President, Product Development at the LEGO Group.


The first outcome of this collaboration is expected to reach customers within the next couple of years.


UNYQ and Area Academy: Gamers are an often overlooked group… even though there are around 2 billion of them in the world. IKEA plans to remedy that through its collaboration with UNYQ, a daring revolutioniser of 3D printed medical wearables, and Area Academy, an educational e-sport company, addressing appearance, ergonomics and mobility.


“By teaming up with UNYQ, IKEA wishes to learn how you could utilise photometric and 3D-scanning in combination with 3D-printing to make it possible to personalise products for better ergonomics and a more individualised appearance. Area Academy has the expert knowledge in what it takes in terms of equipment to make a truly great gamer, and to have a greater gaming experience”, says Marcus Engman.


The result of this collaboration will be available starting in 2020.


Little Sun: In teaming up with social business Little Sun, IKEA hopes to raise awareness of the millions of people around the world who live without access to electricity, clean water and reliable communications services, as well as explore the potential of off-the-grid solutions and renewable energy to make everyday life more sustainable. Little Sun creates affordable, safe, portable, reliable, sustainable light and energy solutions, aiming to strengthen local communities from the inside. IKEA wants to learn from the challenges faced by people living off the grid and from the experts committed to creating off-grid solutions with the best technology available. The collaboration aims at bringing this shared knowledge to IKEA customers, introducing them to portable solar lighting and other off-grid solutions.


“By democratising great things, we can give many people access to products that make everyday life better, supporting and encouraging independent living. If we can create good, democratic design solutions, then living off the grid can become sustainable, low-cost, and will provide independence”, says Engman.


Stefan Diez: Working today is more flexible than ever and traditional office spaces are beginning to change as people’s individual needs become more important and there is growing demand for mobility. The partnership between IKEA and award-winning industrial designer Stefan Diez will explore the future of work and development of better workplaces for the masses, trying out new solutions and using the IKEA Democratic Design Centre in Älmhult as the place to test the prototype.

“We know that the definition of what a job is, changes a lot right now. In fact the only constant we see in the future is change itself. Going forward we believe that the sustainable approach to work and workplaces is to set up structures that are built for change. That’s why we at IKEA use ourselves as guinea pigs, by using our own workspace here in Älmhult to find out how to do this in the very best way”, says Engman.


The IKEA workspace collaboration with Stefan Diez will be prototyped in Älmhult starting 2019.


Saint Heron: The collaboration between IKEA and multidisciplinary cultural hub Saint Heron will explore multifunctional architectural and interior design objects. Founded by Solange Knowles in 2013, Saint Heron focuses on ‘building the community that we wish to see exist’ through music, visual art, and performance art mediums. The hub is centred on its artist and artisan collaborations, creating original multimedia installations that creatively reflect on intersectional art and culture themes, foster thoughtful fellowship, and push community conversations to the forefront.

”Contemporary art is a huge part of people’s life today. At IKEA we are curious about the creative space in between architecture, design, art and music and how that could come alive in the homes of many people. This is what we want to explore together with Saint Heron”, says Engman.

Art Rugs: Art Rugs is an eclectic, limited edition collection that merges traditional rug and tapestry techniques with avant-garde fashion, tattoo art and sculptural objects. IKEA worked with Craig Green, Virgil Abloh, Chiaozza, Noah Lyon, Seulgi Lee, Misaki Kawai, Supakitch and Filip Pagowski, eight influential contemporary artists from different parts of the art world, including painting, sculpture and fashion. The artists had full artistic freedom in the design process, working from their studios all over the world. The eight rugs have a wide range of expressions, styles, shapes and sizes, all reflecting the diversity of the artists, and are manufactured in Egypt and India using traditional methods and high quality wool.

“IKEA believes art should be democratic and a natural part of many people’s homes, not just for galleries and museums. We set out to create an unexpected collaboration, and ended up with a multifaceted collection of disruptive statement rugs that will bring a lot of life and expression to any home.” says Henrik Most, Creative Leader for the upcoming collection. “We’ve watched this vibrant magic appear from the clash of global modern expressions with the traditional art of rug making. The result is this colourful collection, exploding with dynamic boldness.”


IKEA Art Rugs will be available for a limited time starting spring 2019.

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