The bridge connecting Denmark and Sweden. And from the road trip to Älmhult
In the second week of June, I flew to Sweden, the home of IKEA, to attend IKEA’s Democratic Design Days in Älmhult. Along with journalists, influencers, editors & bloggers from different countries, I got an opportunity to experience IKEA as an insider. While the days were packed with sessions, interactions, showcases and visits to various IKEA units, the evenings were spent wining and dining with fellow media folks in the picturesque town of Malmö. In these two days, I fell in love with IKEA, all over again. And this time, not just for its superbly designed products, but also for what IKEA and its people believe in and that what drives them. Getting a really good insight into the heart and brain of IKEA was my biggest takeaway from the event.
Quaint Swedish town of Malmö
I K E A ~ P E O P L E A N D D E S I G N
A warm welcome at the Ikea campus on Day 1!
You know it’s going to be a good show when you are welcomed in the morning with peppy and energetic live music! As we moved to the beats and mingled, the super efficient IKEA team led us to the very first session for the day. The day started with interesting presentations and engaging discussions with IKEA’s CEO Peter Agnefjäll and other key team members and collaborators.
Five elements of Democratic Design: Form, Function, Quality, Sustainability & Price
It was exciting to hear about IKEA’s upcoming collaborations with Hays and Tom Dixon. The friendly banter between industry icons, IKEA’s Design Head Marcus Engman and UK’s Tom Dixon, set the tone for the many open conversations we had with various people at IKEA. I spent some time with Marcus and we discussed an array of topics – from the design process at IKEA to fun IKEA hacks to India’s influence on IKEA, and of course, IKEA’s launch in India next year! It was so good to feel the passion for the work they do and to see the belief in the power of good design, not just in my chat with Marcus but in every interaction I had at IKEA. It was also fun to get a sneak peek at the upcoming products and collections, and exchange ideas and design insights with their respective designers.
L i f e a t H o m e R e p o r t 2 0 1 6
Pretty vignettes in the Ikea campus
One of the highlights of the event was the launch of IKEA’s Life at Home Report 2016. The results of this report directly feed into the design thought process for new products. For the third consecutive year, IKEA has interviewed people across cities and countries to understand the evolving needs and dreams of its customers. This year, IKEA has focused on what actually makes a home for people. The findings, are enlightening to say the least! This extensive research and analysis each year is a critical input for trend forecasting and predicting consumer requirements at IKEA.
Experiential olfactory exhibit derived from findings of the Life at Home Report
S o c i a l E n t r e p r e n e u r s h i p A n d T h e I K E A F o u n d a t i o n
IKEA in India
What good is an organization if it doesn’t have a heart? And IKEA is one organization that does have a large heart. IKEA passionately believes in sustainability, conservation and improving life for people and communities. From the many humanitarian projects, the one that really touched my heart was the work being done by IKEA for Refugee rehabilitation. Using intelligent design and its reach across the globe, IKEA has been helping in myriad ways to make life better for refugees in different parts of the world.
Another interesting facet of supporting people and communities is the partnership IKEA has with Social Entrepreneurs. In India, IKEA is collaborating with Rangsutra and Industree who engage about 1100 women artisans to produce special product collections. Representatives from Rangsutra and Industree, including a woman artisan, were present at the event and it was a pleasure to talk to them and hear their experiences and stories.
The latest collection KRYDDGLAD made by women artisans in India
B e h i n d T h e S c e n e s – T h e I k e a C om m u n i c a t i o n S t u d i o
Catalogue 2017 in the making!
Oh, the love for IKEA catalogues! I have collected them since donkeys years and I jumped at the chance to visit the impressive studio where the catalogues are produced. Each year, there are many versions of the catalogues that are produced in around 30 languages to be made available in 48 countries! A substantial percentage of the visuals in the catalogue is now created using computer generated imagery. I got to observe some live shoots and interact with the team of photographers, art directors stylists and production managers running the shoots. I came back thoroughly impressed by the effort, creativity and team work that goes in for every single perfect shot that we see on IKEA’s website and it’s catalogues.
Bohemian IKEA in 2017? Maybe!
I K E A M u s e u m
IKEA’s very first store, that opened in 1958 in Älmhult, is now a museum! We got a pre-opening tour of the museum and I loved browsing through their collections over the years. Apart from IKEA’s history, it’s a great place to see the change in home furnishing and decor trends over the years.
I K E A i n I n d i a !
And finally, for my readers in India, the big question on everyone’s minds – when and where will IKEA’s first store open in India? Well, the first store will open in the second half of 2017 and will be in Hyderabad where IKEA has already acquired a large tract of land required to operate it’s store. IKEA has also picked up land near Bombay and is scouting for locations in/near Delhi and Bangalore. I CAN NOT wait for IKEA to come to India! Can you? 🙂
Watch this space for more updates and events as IKEA unfolds in India!
[Images and Story: An Indian Summer. Except: Image for Social Entrepreneurship – video grab from IKEA]