Seventy odd years ago, IKEA was established to cater for people’s need in the deep forests of the Swedish south. Now one of the worlds largest furniture retailers, IKEA invites the public to experience what it takes to cater for humanity, including driving forces and lesson learned, inside the very first of its kind—the IKEA museum.
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With more than five years experience, in close collaboration with IKEA, designing products including the JANINGE chair, design studio Form Us With Love was invited to design three parts of the museum; the Introductory Hall, the Democratic Design Gallery and the Interactive Ball Room.
Form Us With Love has contributed displays to the new IKEA museum in Älmhult, including a giant marble run and a rainbow-hued retrospective of the company’s most famous products.
The museum is located on the site of the first IKEA store, which opened in 1958 and closed in 2012 when a second IKEA store opened in Älmhult. IKEA worked with Wilkinson Eyre Architects, Uulas Arkitekter and Ralph Appelbaum Associates to transform the store into a museum. It includes a permanent exhibition of over 20,000 pieces from the company’s archive.
The company also brought on board Stockholm-based Form Us With Love to add some finishing touches, having worked with them previously on a number of products. The brief to the studio focused on three areas: the introductory hall, the democratic design display and the interactive ball run.
Form Us With Love CEO Jonas Pettersson described the studio’s involvement as “tying things together”, which he says they did mostly through materials and finishes. “Comparing this to other curation work we have done, it was very special, as the content was so in-depth and massive,” he said.
To begin with, the team worked on the introductory hall, where IKEA’s flat-pack furniture is installed on two walls in a rainbow of colours. “We felt that the first room of the museum should project what IKEA is all about, without feeling daunting,” said Form Us With Love creative director John Löfgren.
“It should be powerful and inspirational, a mix of well-known essential objects and elements of surprise.” Three floors above the Introductory Hall, the Democratic Design display, location within the Our Story gallery, explores the journey from the first brief to a final product. To demonstrate this, Form Us With Love created an installation where visitors can touch and feel the various materials that IKEA products are made from.
On the top floor of the museum is the studio’s interactive sculpture, a large pipe that vertically descends through the atrium, all the way to the ground floor. The interactive ball room – inspired by the childhood game of marble runs – is intended to engage younger visitors in the same way that the kids’ playrooms do at IKEA stores.
Wilkinson Eyre Architects and Uulas Arkitekter restored the exterior of the building to its original form using drawings by architect Claes Knutson. It features a line of V-shaped pillars across its facade. The opening date of the museum was first announced during the company’s Democratic Design Day earlier this year, held inside the same building.
During the conference, which aims to make the company more transparent by sharing some of its behind-the-scenes research and processes, IKEA also announced collaborations with Danish brand Hay and designer Tom Dixon.
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