Beyond the Flat Pack: The rise of IKEA’s global cool factor

IKEA: From fashion collaborations to its iconic blue tote bag

There was a time when IKEA, the Swedish design company was known solely as the place that you could get a kitchen table for under £100, and a 20-piece cutlery set for under £10. It was a mecca for students and young urban dwellers on a budget. But in the last few years, IKEA has racked up some serious cool factor.

In 2014, it launched a cinema pop-up in Russia, transforming a cinema space into a giant bedroom and then followed it in 2015 with a London based three-day pop-up breakfast in bed cafe.


Both of these experiences, show the innovative ways that the brand is inviting its consumer and potential consumers to experience its products. Experiential retail is the current buzzword in retail, but IKEA was aware of this long before most brands started throwing around the word.

“Ikea has pushed itself to be more than a dorm destination for every college student out there. With its sleek lines and subtle hues, IKEA has brought basics back on the map, but it wants to be more than that – it wants to have an edge. It is achieving this both in the way it is branching out with its design ideas and its new 2017 catalogue, curated with more ‘relatable imagery’ and therefore making the brand more accessible and exciting to a wider array of consumers. It is making its way toward being the coveted retailer for all consumers,” says WGSN’s Leah McCormack, Associate Editor, Lifestyle and Interiors.

In addition to racking up interiors fans, IKEA launched its first ever runway show in 2015 as part of Milan Fashion Week, live streamed on Youtube, and blurring the lines between fashion and furniture. In this way it was a trend setter, other brands followed with interior inspired fashion garments, from H&M’s Musée des Arts Décoratifs collection and  Calico Wallpaper’s fashion line.

And that wasn’t its only fashion collab, IKEA also teamed up with Kanye West’s favourite London designer Katie Eary on a print-tastic limited edition home furnishing line, in the spring of this year.

And now, in addition to a traditional design collaboration with Danish design company Hay, and a new eco-friendly collection called PS2017, IKEA has teamed up with streetwear editorial site HYPEBEAST for a collaboration, where it has created the ultimate ‘sneakerhead’ bedroom

and a ‘musician’s studio room’. This latest turn, with streetwear brand HYPEBEAST, adds another layer of cool factor for IKEA and shows its willingness to embrace innovative marketing strategies, that feel more immersive, and shareable, but not diluting from the core message of good design that improves your life.

“People who appreciate good design will always look to IKEA as a solid balance of affordability, utility, and subtle beauty.  Everything from IKEA’s eminently usable blue tote bags which are so iconic that Deer Dana and JJJJound made a collaborative canvas one a few years ago named after founder Ingvar Kamprad, to the strides IKEA has made courting fashion designers for collaborative collections,” says WGSN’s Senior Editor, Jian DeLeon.


And for foodie fans, Ikea is now launching a pop-dining club for potential consumers. The Dining Club by IKEA opens on  Saturday 10th September until Sunday 25th September 2016, offering a unique foodie experience through a virtual reality kitchen. There’s also on-site cooking workshops (and talks on everything from the future of food and waste to creative cooking with kids), plus an IKEA cafe serving Swedish delicacies. The innovative experience is a brand strategy to help consumers engage with Ikea kitchen products, and relate it to a fun, food experience.

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