You might be able to get your hands on Ikea's Överallt collection in SA

The Swedish flatpack furniture giant has a different kind of DIY in mind for bringing the collaborative pieces created by African and Swedish designers to the global market

03 March 2019 - 00:10 By Julia Freemantle
Ikea Överallt stained solid eucalyptus bench by Bethan Rayner, Naeem Biviji and Mikael Axelsson.
Ikea Överallt stained solid eucalyptus bench by Bethan Rayner, Naeem Biviji and Mikael Axelsson.
Image: Supplied

IKEA's much-anticipated Överallt collection is a groundbreaking collaboration bringing together a Swedish creative team and 10 designers across disciplines (fashion, architecture, interiors) from five countries around the African continent.

The line-up includes architect Issa Diabaté from Ivory Coast, product designer Bibi Seck, fashion designer Selly Raby Kane, Naeem Biviji and Bethan Rayner from Kenyan Studio Propolis, Mariam Hazem and Hend Riad from Reform Studio in Egypt and a strong South African contingent in the form of Renee Rossouw, Sindiso Khumalo and Laduma Ngxokolo.

The long process that's seen them spending time in focused workshops in Sweden, as well as public sessions during 2017's Design Indaba, where the project was originally seeded, and also exchanging updates via Skype and e-mail, will culminate in the worldwide launch in May.

The collection, which will comprise pieces spanning furniture and homeware, was based on the concept of "urban rituals" - the daily activities that provide the framework of our lives.

Ikea designer Johanne Jelinek explains what the idea means to her: "You have your morning rituals, coming-home rituals, taking the train rituals; there are so many rituals and you do it your way, it's very personalised. These are really important. Rituals connect people through the past and the present and give a feeling of belonging; you can land in your rituals."

The designers set about exploring these rituals in light of how the world is changing - and how rituals differ from place to place. The global feel of the collection is a result of this cross-pollination of influences.

The Scandinavian team brought its understanding of processes and mass production, while the African designers brought ideas unique to their cultures - for example, Selly Raby Kane's design was based on hair-weaving techniques.

"What we felt was fantastic was you couldn't really miss that the designs are African. They really popped up from their own hearts, but they are modernised in a way - maybe that's the connection to Scandinavia," says Jelinek.

WATCH | Marcus Engman, head of design at IKEA, on the creation of the Överallt collection

The different sources of creative inspiration and ideas have prompted the use of new materials and techniques and so too the need for creating innovative ways of producing. "It's a challenging process but that's what is exciting," says James Futcher, creative leader at Ikea.

Given that Ikea isn't available everywhere, the company is exploring the possibilities of making some things available via Open Source. This likelihood of local interpretations of the master plans poses some interesting design possibilities too - the simple design of a chair taking on different characteristics depending on who makes it and where.

Ikea Överallt polypropylene and powder-coated steel basket by Selly Raby Kane and Ina Vuorivirta.
Ikea Överallt polypropylene and powder-coated steel basket by Selly Raby Kane and Ina Vuorivirta.
Image: Supplied
Ikea Överallt polyester, polypropylene, polyethylene and aluminium bag by Hend Riad and Mariam Hazem.
Ikea Överallt polyester, polypropylene, polyethylene and aluminium bag by Hend Riad and Mariam Hazem.
Image: Supplied

"Depending on where those objects are built, they can take on different personalities. If you download the drawings in West Africa and build off them, the objects will be very different to if you download the drawings in China or in South America, for instance," says architect Diabeté.

Whatever the interpretation, the result will be a global collection of around 30 pieces designed to merge design influences, as well as spotlight the creative explosion happening in Africa.

The products will be available globally in May, with the official launch having taken place at Design Indaba 2019.

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