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.

Editor's pick Podcast sustainability

How Ikea is boosting sustainable and healthy living

Rachel Arthur and Joanna Yarrow
Rachel Arthur and Joanna Yarrow

“We’ve been set up as a business to understand how people live and to provide solutions that help them live better,” says Joanna Yarrow, head of sustainable and healthy living at Ikea, on the latest episode of TheCurrent Innovators podcast.

Since its inception 75 years ago, the Swedish flatpack retailer has been known for affordable – and arguably, disposable – furniture that is a staple in young people’s homes. But after identifying a shift in how we consume and live our lives, Ikea is on a much bigger mission, which is to think of what products and services it can provide that support consumers to live more sustainably, and more healthily, everyday, Yarrow explains.

Speaking to Rachel Arthur, she says that sustainability has always been at the core of Ikea, but one of the biggest mistakes it has made is not to have engaged with consumers on their sustainable journey up until now.

Listen here: Apple Podcasts | Android | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS

But times have shifted, and with mainstream consumers now maturing from supporting a single cause, such as saving water, to attempting to become more sustainable in every aspect of their lives, Ikea is aiming to follow suit. To achieve its sustainable strategy, the company’s approach is threefold: look at its use of energy and resources (by 2020, it will be generating at least as much energy as it is consuming in their operations); look at people and it supply chain; and lastly, how to improve its customers’ lives overarchingly.

The company is due to release its new strategy in June, which will focus on its consumers and how to create affordability, accessibility and sustainability for all. Customers of the Greenwich, London store due to open in 2019 will be able to trial some of the company’s upcoming features, which include upcycling stations, solar panels, green walls and rain water harvesting, among other components.

During the conversation, Yarrow also talks about her background as the child of eco-warriors in England, how brands can no longer afford to just greenwash, and her belief that no one brand will ever be able to achieve sustainability alone, making collaboration key.

Catch up with all of our episodes of TheCurrent Innovators here. The series is a weekly conversation with visionaries, executives and entrepreneurs. It’s backed by TheCurrent, a consultancy transforming how consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.