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Editor's pick product sustainability

Ikea unveils new collaborations with adidas, Lego and Sonos

A rug by IKEA x Virgil Abloh

Ikea has unveiled a series of upcoming collaborations that will further cement the Swedish brand in the realm of enabling a design-conscious, and in some instances more sustainable, lifestyle for its customers.

The collaborations, which will launch from now up to 2020, will include pioneering names such as toy giant Lego, sportswear brand Adidas and audio line Sonos, on top of the previously publicized collections with designer Virgil Abloh and fragrance label Byredo.

The announcement was made at this year’s Democratic Design Days, an annual event during which the brand talks through its design and product development goals to a group of 500+ journalists.

At the event, Marcus Engman, Ikea’s head designer, unveiled that the collaborations aim to highlight the company’s forward-thinkingness, saying: “They’re things that are not so familiar at Ikea, and I love that. It’s good to push the boundaries.”

Home and lifestyle

A collaboration with artist Olafur Eliasson and his company Little Sun, which provides solar-powered lights for people with no access to electricity, will develop solar products and also look to develop projects involving solar power and water consumption.

“We’re all sitting here consuming power. What would it feel like if we didn’t have it?” said Eliasson, explaining that the Ikea involvement is a great way to bring that problem to a larger audience. “It’s about getting people to understand these problems and to ask, ‘What can I do to take a more active step?’”

With audio brand Sonos, it is set to create a range of more affordable speakers that merge Sonos’ Wi-Fi-enabled devices with Ikea’s Trådfris range of smart devices, with a focus on bringing a more design-led audio experience to the home, which includes getting rid of unnecessary wires.

Meanwhile, launching summer 2019, Ikea’s party line with Stockholm-based software company Teenage Engineering, will see products ranging from speakers and light devices to glassware.

Following the 2017 Ikea Play Report which revealed 47% of children want more playtime with their parents, and that 90% of parents believe play is essential to wellbeing and happiness, the company is also teaming up with Lego. Although details are not available at this point, the companies highlight there is a strong synergy in their knowledge of the importance of encouraging fun and creativity.

IKEA x Teenage Engineering
Fashion and design

Beyond the Virgil Abloh collaboration, other fashion and design-focused partnerships include an upcoming Adidas collection that will explore exercising in the home, and how both brands can better support that behaviour; working with Byredo on a line of home fragrances launching in 2020; a partnership with African creative company Design Indaba and 10 African artists on a line of textiles and tabletop goods; and a collection with Saint Heron, a multidisciplinary cultural company founded by singer Solange Knowles, exploring art and design objects with multifunctional use.

Sustainability goals

The event also emphasised Ikea’s pledge to further push its sustainability goals by 2030, as previously hinted by Joanna Yarrow, head of sustainable and healthy living at Ikea on a recent episode of TheCurrent Innovators podcast.

This means all Ikea products will be designed with new circular principals, with the goal to use only renewable and recycled materials, as well as from a retail perspective, offering services that make it easier for customers to take care of and pass on Ikea products.

Videos on each specific collaboration announcement can be found on IKEA’s YouTube channel here.

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technology

Ikea is betting on AI, as well as virtual and augmented realities

Ikea's augmented reality app
Ikea’s augmented reality app

Ikea is looking at both artificial intelligence and digital realities as big opportunities for its future.

CEO Jesper Brodin, said a “major shift” in technology over recent years has prompted the retailer to start looking at both for how they can impact business. During the World Economic Forum in Davos, he told CNBC: “(What) we haven’t been able to do before is to find easier ways to connect with people so digital opens up massive opportunities for us.”

Last month, the retailer tested virtual reality in its Dallas, Texas, store. Shoppers were given access to a fully immersive experience that allowed to them play a pillow toss game with a coffee table or hang out with a panda inside a bamboo lamp.

Its also been playing with augmented reality. Using Apple’s ARkit, its new Ikea Place app now allows consumers to virtually try out what furniture looks like in their homes before buying.

Artificial intelligence, meanwhile, is an area many retailers are turning to in a bid to stay ahead of competition from mega players like Amazon. Ikea previously announced research into the idea of its own AI virtual assistant, for instance, that would be able to help customers with “smart furniture”.

AI was also a big focus in Davos at large with Google’s chief executive Sundar Pichai, referring to it as more important than fire or electricity.

“Like most retailers, we don’t know exactly where we will land at the end of it, but our curiosity and willingness to create will be a guide for us,” Brodin added.