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IKEA HIGHLIGHTS 2016
WELCOME TO ANOTHER INDIA
WRITER: INA SIMONSEN
Say Indian design and most people think of rich colours and golden décor. So it’s hardly a surprise that SVÄRTAN collection, all in black, white and shades of grey, gives away nothing of its origin at first glance. However, at a closer look it all makes sense.
When Swedish textile Designer, Martin Bergström, and 25 students at the National Institute of Fashion Technology in New Delhi, went looking for contemporary India the results were well over 2 000 drawings – all inspired by the urban landscape, textures and patterns that are usually overlooked, be it dangling cables hanging over a street or the intricate shadow play on a wall.
“When I came to India, the first thing I noticed was the light. But then I started seeing other things. I saw the beauty beyond the obvious: the amazing patina of surfaces, the textures of walls, patterns created by the monsoon rains,” says Martin.
The outcome of the workshop is visualised in the final collection appropriately named SVÄRTAN, the Swedish word for “blackness”. Here the 2 000 drawings have been transformed into 15 patterns in black, white and shades of grey.
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I saw the beauty beyond the obvious: The amazing patina of surfaces, the textures of walls, patterns created by the monsoon rains.
WHILE THE TEXTILE, PAPER ITEMS, GLASSWARE, ceramics and metal objects that make up SVÄRTAN look beyond traditional Indian aesthetics, they still lean firmly on traditional handicraft. That doesn’t make it any less modern. Among the young generation of Indian designers, part of the country’s rapidly growing design industry, there is an increasing will to experiment and look to the future, while still taking pride in, and being inspired by, Indian traditions and culture. And, there’s a lot to be inspired by.
“In Europe we’re longing for authenticity, for being in contact with ourselves and nature. In India you’re already there, respecting nature while making wise use of it, like making a basket of banana leaves or a matrass out of coconut fibre instead of throwing it away,” says Juvencio Maeztu, Country Manager for IKEA India.
SVÄRTAN COLLECTION IS AN ATTEMPT to blend the Indian heritage with the Scandinavian, and can as such be an illustration for the IKEA endeavour in India as a whole. And as the opening of the first IKEA store, in Hyderabad in 2017, draws near, there’s a question that needs to be asked: How can IKEA, with its roots deep in Scandinavian aesthetics, expect to be successful in a country as diverse and complex as India?
It’s not about being an arrogant European company coming to Asia just to do business; but connecting with people and with the society, learning as much as we can about life in India – about realities, dreams and needs.
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“We can influence people to a better life at home, but we also have to let ourselves be influenced by the world. It’s not about being an arrogant European company coming to Asia just to do business; but connecting with people and with the society, learning as much as we can about life in India – about realities, dreams and needs,” says Juvencio.
WITH THIS MIND, A NUMBER OF IKEA SCOUTS were sent out to homes all over India, armed with cameras, notebooks – and a healthy dose of nosiness. Of course there’s no such thing as one single way of living at home in a country of well over one billion people. Still, as is so often the case, people tend to have more in common than that which sets them apart. It’s proven not least by a recent IKEA Life@Home report. Living in one of eight pinpointed big cities around the world, inhabitants in Mumbai have answered questions about their daily life – with an emphasis on their morning routines. It’s plainly obvious that some things are universal. How many of us don’t dream of having time to exercise before work, or catching up on the morning news? (In Mumbai it’s true for more than 80% of the respondents respectively).
Other things are undisputedly different – like the climate. In order to find out what that means for IKEA products, 24 homes in different Indian cities were furnished and revisited every other month.
“We found that humidity, water, cleaning methods and product usage would be big issues; the IKEA quality that´s good enough for big parts of the world wasn’t good enough for Asia. As a consequence we’ve decided to make massive improvements, and we’re now changing more than 1 500 items so that they will withstand humid conditions. Eventually that means that we’ll have better products for the whole world,” says Juvencio, who no longer sees challenges but only opportunities for IKEA in India.
“I am sure we can contribute to a better life for as many as possible. But it doesn’t go one way. I’m just as sure that India will make IKEA better.”
I am sure we can contribute to a better life for as many as possible. But it doesn’t go one way. I’m just as sure that India will make IKEA better.
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We decided from the beginning that we were not going to compromise with the IKEA fundamentals and the IKEA brand, and so not to take any shortcuts. In order to practice what we preach we need to connect with the society around us. For example we have committed to gender equality in India as well. For that reason we have established kindergartens for co-workers as well as social benefits packets to support the family.

Juvencio Maeztu
For me, Next Generation is one of the best initiatives at IKEA. My daughter spent a few days in an Indian village with a Next Generation project. She met a woman who shared her life story - a harsh reality of poverty and abuse. At first her family didn’t want her to start working with IKEA, and she had a very tough time. No one talked to her for a month. Then she came home with 10 000 rupies. Today she had a new house built of bricks, her children are going to school, and her husband works alongside her. She’s a well-respected person in the village and is supporting other women to take the same step at she did. This is change for real, and it’s meaningful. Still it’s business and not charity.

Juvencio Maeztu
Our partners at IKEA Foundation have been supporting long-term programmes helping poor children and families in India for the past 15 years. Now, we’re taking a next step together. When children in poor areas get better lives and an education, they’ll grow up and need jobs. For that reason we’ve joined together with the IKEA Foundation and launched a skill-building project for young women, together with retail as a prioritised sector.

Juvencio Maeztu
FACTS
IKEA FOUNDATION
FACTS

NEXT GENERATION IN INDIA - A NEW WAY TO DO BUSINESS
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FACTS

WELCOME TO IKEA INDIA
India is the only IKEA country to have retail, sourcing, distribution, IKEA Foundation and Next Generation within its borders. Today, IKEA has 48 suppliers in India, engaging more than 45 000 direct co-workers and approximately 400,000 co-workers in the extended supply chain. The first IKEA store is planned to open in Hyderabad in 2017, and there are already plans for stores in Mumbai, Bangalore and New Delhi, with more to come.
Since 2012 IKEA has been focusing on creating partnerships with social entrepreneurs around the world, where the business idea revolves around social issues and lasting change. In India there are currently two ongoing Next generation projects: Rangsutra, Swaayam Kala and Industree Producer Transform. These are mainly targeting women in the rural areas, providing them with resources and design to create handmade products. Since IKEA connects directly with the women, the largest part of the profit goes to them.
IKEA Foundation is the philanthropic arm of INGKA Foundation, the owner of the IKEA Group of companies. The IKEA Foundation aims to improve opportunities for children and youth in some of the world’s poorest communities by focusing on four fundamental areas of a child’s life: a place to call home; a healthy start in life; a quality education; and a sustainable family income. IKEA Foundation is also helping these communities fight and cope with climate change.
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MEET BILLY AT HIS
COUNTRYSIDE BIRTHPLACE
He has been around for nearly four decades. Most of us have either lived with him or gotten to know him at a friend’s place. Come along and meet BILLY at his countryside birthplace where about 4.5 million BILLY bookcases see daylight each year.
Get the full story about the BILLY production
PROTECTING DESKS
… AND THE PLANET
Why not take recycling one step further and actually make new products out of waste? A few years back, someone at IKEA had this ‘crazy idea’… But now, this is turning into reality, saving money for the customers and finite resources for Mother Earth.
Learn more about the crazy idea
PEEKING INTO THE WORLD’S
LARGEST PRINT PRODUCTION
Translated into 33 languages, in 48 different markets, reaching about 255 million people, this year’s IKEA Catalogue welcomed everyone to be themselves. The statement was clear: IKEA doesn’t design furniture for consumers - they design for people. And the reality? People are human, and humans are not perfect.
Get a peek behind the scenes
FURNITURE MADE OUT OF PAPER. NO, SERIOUSLY!
Sofas and chairs made from the same stuff as egg cartons? And bench tops and table legs made from bamboo? Anything is possible as IKEA design-teams explore a world of materials.
Learn more about new materials
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IKEA HIGHLIGHTS
Many companies, organisations and people, together, shape IKEA. Each and every person, idea and solution contribute to the big picture. IKEA Highlights collects stories from different parts of the IKEA world to describe this year’s accomplishments, quirks and maybe even a few slips. Good thing we’re all human.
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A FORCE FOR GOOD DESIGN
A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, David Wahl was given a mission. A young IKEA designer, David was asked to produce a unique object that could defeat the darkness in homes across the planet, bringing light and hope to the many. The result was the IKEA PS Pendant lamp: a planet-like lighting fixture that ‘explodes’ at the pull of a string, spilling warm, glorious light across surrounding spaces.
Read the full story about the IKEA PS Pendant lamp
MOST THINGS STILL
REMAIN TO BE DONE
Have you ever wondered where IKEA came from? Or how a simple country boy from Småland was inspired to create one of the world’s leading brands and help create a better everyday life for millions of people?
Find the answers in the full story