For IKEA’s upcoming Överallt line, ten African artists worked alongside IKEA designers to design furniture and accessories.
Collaborating with the Swedish brand seemed at first a foreign concept to Laduma Ngxokolo, a South African based artist. Not only does IKEA not have a store in his home country, he wasn’t sure that he would be able to bridge the cultural gap that existed.
“Coming from Port Elizabeth at the very southern tip of Africa to IKEA, I looked around and wondered how I’d contribute my African DNA to this aesthetic. But after meeting with the designers and talking about my ideas, I was more confident,” said Laduma, who created rugs and pillows for the new line.
Designers and IKEA have been working on the Överallt line for the past two years and the products are set to hit stores in 2019. IKEA was able to connect with ten designers across Africa by getting involved in the South African Design Indaba exhibition. These designers then worked alongside the in-house designers at IKEA to create a new collection that bridges cultural sensibilities.
Commenting on the signature Scandinavian warm modernism of IKEA, Laduma said that he was excited about the line because we don’t have this type of design aesthetic in South Africa.
“I did some research on IKEA’s design philosophy and understood what they’re about. After that the process was easy for me because their style is quite minimalist, so with my bold style it was like an application exercise,” said Laduma.
During the conceptual phase of the new line, the starting point was the idea of modern urban rituals. Throughout the collaboration process, however, the exercise became more about understanding vastly different approaches to aspects such as design, craftsmanship and materiality. Selly Raby Kane of Senegal decided to focus on a ritual involving hair.
“The main objective for me was to tap into the ritual of braiding and my own experience as a Senegalese woman who braids her hair,” said Selly. Together with an IKEA designer, she created a woven basket that echoes both the process and style of that ritual.
IKEA design lead James Futcher said that one thing that was very interesting and fun was that all the designers had such different approaches. Two designers from Egypt, for example, tackled the project from a material point of view, knowing that material is scarce back home, and developed a weaving material made from recycled chip packets and this metallic thread makes up their pillows and tote bags for the new collection.
Many African countries don’t have access to IKEA products, which has lead the company to explore options ranging from selling through third-party vendors (Ngxokolo mentions Amazon) to creating an open-source platform where makers or customers can create the items themselves.
Full thanks and acknowledgement are given to www.architecturaldigest.com for the information in this article.
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