IKEA & Per B. Sundberg Want You to Put Ugly Things in Your Apartment
The new collaboration brings the ugly-chic fashion trend to home goods.
Per B. Sundberg beholds an IKEA product. Behold! Photograph courtesy of IKEA.
IKEA may be best known for its easy-to-assemble Scandinavian minimalism, but now the decor retailer is hoping you’re bored of all those clean lines and simple silhouettes. And that’s where the brand’s forthcoming collection with Swedish ceramic and glass artist Per B. Sundberg comes in. Sundberg isn’t the first artist who comes to mind when imagining an IKEA collaboration: his work skews absurdist, irregular, and delightfully unusual—not exactly an aesthetic that is synonymous with IKEA. The artist first made a name for himself in the 1990s with experimental ceramics and off-kilter glassworks: phallic mushroom sculptures, glass vases full of feminine curves, and jagged rock-like ceramic objects. Until 2005, Sundberg also worked frequently with Orrefors, a commercial producer of high-end glassworks. Early on, he was heralded for getting Swedes to display eccentric objects and adventurous wares in their homes, a far cry from the country’s go-to decor.
Sundberg’s collaboration with IKEA, dubbed the Föremål collection, is set to launch in September—and appears to have a similar mission statement. The collection features metallic, dog-shaped candlesticks; purposely misshapen vases; and a regal skull-shaped clay pot. Every item feels mischievous, like something plucked from a kitschy antique shop or a creepy carnival funhouse.
Thanks to trends like $800 “Larry David” dad sneakers and extremely bright, neon-colored clothes, today’s image-savvy millennials know that bad taste is actually cool. And it was only a matter of time before this mindset creeped from our closets into the rest of our homes. Even luxury fashion houses like Gucci and Loewe are starting to branch out into the houseware business; some of Gucci’s newest home goods include floral-printed incense holders, graphic-adorned metal end tables, and over embellished throw pillows. In a tiger-printed Gucci serving tray world, IKEA’s decision to tap a master of kitsch like Sundberg makes perfect sense.
When you compare IKEA’s quirky Föremål collection to their forthcoming Virgil Abloh collaboration, it appears the Swedish retail giant is pining after both ends of the market. Abloh’s take on home goods skew more postmodern and self-serious, including rugs adorned with Helvetica and a near-exact replica of a retro Paul McCobb chair. (As Curbed’s architecture critic Alexandra Lange pointed out on Twitter, he just added a hunk of glossy red plastic—the same one he uses on his much-hyped Nike sneakers.) Who is to say that IKEA can’t woo minimalists and maximalists with equal aplomb?
Only time will tell if today’s savvy consumers are ready to display ugly knick-knacks on their dressers. It’s one thing to buy a pair of gaudy sneakers for a single season, but displaying deliberately tacky objects in your home requires a true commitment to the ugly-is-cool trend. IKEA and Per B. Sundberg are confident that you’re ready for it, though. Or, at least, they hope you will be be next month when the collection hits stores.