An ode to icons: IKEA launches a new collection to celebrate 80 successful years in home-making
Everything, from side tables, plant stands, hat and coat stands to paper napkins, rugs, cushion covers, pillowcases and stools, has been updated to meet the distinctive choices of the next generation.
Much before IKEA set up shop in India five years ago, the leading Swedish brand had already established a relationship with the country. For the past four decades, it has been working with Indian artisans to create products that have been retailing on the world stage. Now, in its 80th year, and with five stores across the country, IKEA is looking to reinforce the relationship further with a new limited-edition collection called Nytillverkad.
Meaning ‘newly made’ in Swedish, it pays tribute to the brand’s classic designs, but with modern twists, vibrant colours and improved materials and processes.
“We went through our archives and looked at some of the most-loved products that we believed we could relaunch in 2023 with a sense of joy, fun and boldness,” says Erik-Jan Middelhoven, country home furnishings and retail design manager, IKEA India. Everything, from side tables, plant stands, hat and coat stands to paper napkins, rugs, cushion covers, pillowcases and stools, has been updated to meet the distinctive choices of the next generation.
Middelhoven recalls that IKEA’s association with India first started because of the country’s expertise in textiles. “It began with home textiles and soft toys, and almost parallel to that, we began a ‘made for social change’ collaboration with underprivileged women for their embroidery work as part of IWAY (IKEA way of responsibly sourcing products, services, materials and components), where we contribute to society rather than benefit from it.
This included ensuring better working conditions for the women, and enabling them to send their children to school,” he adds. In 2014, IKEA’s popular PS collection included wall tapestries based on Swedish fairy tales, which were handcrafted by Indian women artisans. In recent years, the brand has also come up with an annual colourful home accessories collection called Aromatisk, which takes inspiration from Diwali and the larger autumn festivity period in India.
“Last year, as part of the collection, we had dried flower garlands that could be stored and reused. The colour palette for the upcoming collection leans towards ochre and marigold. We tone the colours down a bit because we are still IKEA and our design philosophy is a bit simpler with sleeker and calmer lines,” Middlehoven says.
Sustainability, along with affordability and accessibility, have always been the brand’s key focus areas, and over the years, it has put in place systems and processes to be more earth-sensitive. “We are constantly looking for new production methods and materials that consume minimum resources. There have been some good-selling products that have either been phased out or redeveloped to allow better production methodology that reduces waste,” he says, adding that their stores already use green energy, and they are constantly working on improving packaging materials, which ensure optimum protection to the products but not at the cost of the planet.
IKEA, which has opened stores in Hyderabad, Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Bengaluru over the past five years, is now looking to expand in Chennai and Pune, as well as in the north with stores in Gurugram and Noida.
The India story thus far has been successful, says Middelhoven, who believes that modularity or dual-function products are, and will continue to be, big trends in the coming years. “Stackable and foldable products will only become more important because one is already struggling with space in the metros. The younger generation also tends to move a lot for jobs, so the trend will be to purchase smaller furniture pieces that serve dual functions, like coffee tables that can double up as storage racks,” he says. Indeed, flat-pack and foldable is the new way forward.