It’s official: Ikea is no longer just a furniture company

The Swedish company announced a surprisingly long list of partnerships with some of the most iconic brands and designers in the world today at its 2018 Democratic Design Days event yesterday in Älmhult, Sweden. Its new collections show that the company is looking far beyond its assemble-it-yourself furniture and meatball business. It wants to become the source for affordable, well-designed everything. The names range from established corporations like Adidas and Lego to newer companies like Sonos. Then there’s a series of collaborations with a unusual mix of artists and designers from all sorts of disciplines–there’s Icelandic-Danish artist Olafur Eliasson, fashion designer like Virgil Abloh (and his fantastic Ikea receipt rug), the Solange-backed cultural hub Saint Heron, and perfume (!!!) creator Ben Gorham, and glass and ceramics artist Per B Sundberg, among others. While the end result of many of these projects remains to be seen, Ikea gives us a few hints: It will work with Eliasson’s Little Sun spin-off to create solar products for communities without electricity access. And with Saint Heron, the company told Lonny it will explore “the creative space in between architecture, design, art, and music and how that could come alive in the homes of the many people.” There are also some perplexing alliances, including one with Area Academy–an esports company dedicated to education in that field, and Unyq, which uses 3D printing to create custom prosthetics. Ikea has been refining and expanding its business model for a while now. The company introduced pet furniture and bought the startup Task Rabbit with the intention of enabling their customers to hire someone to build their Ikea furniture. It has also created augmented reality apps to simplify the customer decision making, shopping, and assembly experience. Expanding its business to include more home and lifestyle products–like Sonos audio systems or limited-edition handcrafted products seems like a logical step toward Ikea becoming your sole supplier of well-designed stuff. Even the perplexing collaboration with the 3D-printing company Unyq may be linked to an effort to personalize your cookie-cutter Swedish furniture. In short, Ikea’s announcement shows how the company is looking beyond its conventional business. While we’ll have to wait for some of these collaborations to be unveiled, here’s a look at the complete list of unpronounceable collections announced thus far. There you have it. Is there anything left in our homes that Ikea hasn’t touched yet? From fashion to toys to art to pet supplies to AR apps to esports gear to audio equipment. We’re just missing TVs and smartphones. If it has a role in your personal life, it seems, Ikea wants to sell it to you. - Jesus Diaz -



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