Design, Interiors & Lifestyle Blog
Design, Interiors & Lifestyle Blog

A visit to Almhult Sweden for Ikea Democratic Design Day.

I’ve just returned last week from an inspiring trip to the homeland of Ikea in Älmhult, Sweden. I was invited to join a large group of international press, for the annual Ikea Democratic Design day event, where the new and future Ikea collections were being revealed.

It’s amazing to think how far Ikea has come. The photo above is of Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of Ikea. He is now 91 years old, but founded Ikea at the age of 17. This photo of Ingvar Kamprad is located at the entrance of the Ikea museum. If you zoom in and look close enough, you can see that it is comprised of lots of tiny photos of his co workers.

So you may be wondering why the event is called Ikea Democratic design day. Marcus Engman, the head of Design at Ikea told us that the term ‘Democratic Design’ is actually the backbone, heart and soul of Ikea.

Ikea Democratic Design is made up of 5 principles that influences every step of the design process. These 5 principles are: Form, Function, Quality, Sustainability and Low price

When Marcus Engman was asked if all Ikea products lived up to the five principles of DemocraticDesign, it was refreshing to hear him admit that not all do, and that solutions Ikea were happy with a few years ago, may no longer live up to current expectations, hence new solutions and modifications are being sought. This is the 2019 limited edition version of the iconic Ikea Frakta bag. Yes, you heard right, it’s only available in 2019, and I’m so pleased to have been given one at the event. It is a shimmery silver bag with pastel hues of mint, blue and yellow. It’s actually made of recycled crisp packets.

Ikea is now starting to collaborate on making limited edition versions. There will be a few new designs by Hay coming out this year.

Did you read all about Ikea’s clever response to Balenciega’s new collection bag that looked like an Ikea Frakta bag recently? Here it is. Brilliant marketing response isn’t it? Before I reveal the new Ikea collection, I thought I’d show you my tour with Ikea at their museum in Älmhult.

Recently CNBC reported that vintage Ikea furniture are selling for thousands of pounds at auction. Could this soon have us all flocking to Ikea to collect the limited edition pieces? I managed to photograph a few of Ikea’s beautiful vintage mid century collections here.

It was so interesting to see a working condition old fashioned black and white television. Look at this beautiful chair, upholstered in a very on trend deep olive green. There was also a new temporary fabric exhibition in the basement of the museum. I spent ages there looking at the vibrant coloured prints on fabric.

I managed to get 2 posters from the museum shop with the Dala horses and bananas prints above. Stunning patterns and colours. I also got to tour Ikea’s Test lab. I was fascinated to learn about all the tests done during product development.

These were the areas of testing :

Chemistry- testing volatile organic compound emissions, odour tests and more.

Textile- testing its pH to ensure the textile doesn’t cause skin irritation, strength of fabric, appearance after washing and shrinkage, stain resistance, absorbency and more.

Fire- flammability tests on the furniture.

Candle- Quality of burning, soot test and more.

Surface and Corrosion – durability of surfaces

Furniture- mechanical tests on functionality ( above is the photo of the mattress roll test. A 140kg weight is rolled over the mattress between 30000 to 50000 times, with the possible height loss measured).

Assembly – assess if products can be assembled quickly and easily.

Kitchen – appliance testing

Lighting- ensure lighting exceed the stated life time and more.

Climate chamber-testing moisture related problems on wood in countries with high humidity.

Component- testing the hinges, dowels and screws.

Packaging material- testing the corrugated cardboard to ensure products in transit are well protected.

Here’s a robot hand testing a kid’s packed lunch box. We stayed at the Ikea hotell.

As expected, the lobby was full of stylish Ikea furniture. Here’s one of the sitting room areas. That fireplace and stacked wood shelf is so cool right? This is the restaurant at Ikea Hotell.  My pared down and simple bedroom. Love that light house and wave photography series above my bed. Now to introduce you to the collections launching later this year and in 2018.

This is Rolf and Mette Hay. For those who love Scandinavian design, will know their renowned Danish furniture brand Hay.

A few years ago, I visited Copenhagen and of course no visit there should be without a visit to HAY. You can see my Hay post here. The Ikea and HAY collaboration is one of the most highly anticipated collections due to come out this year in October.

Their collection is called Ypperlig. In my opinion, the sofa above is the must have piece of the collection.

I believe it will be retailing for 599 Euros, which is super affordable for an iconic piece of design. I’ve shot it up close for you to see. I’ve even sat on it, and can report that it is super comfortable. Here’s a chair from the Ypperlig collection. Aren’t these Ypperlig cushions divine? I’m in love with the pink cushion with the red polka dots. Feast your eyes on this Ypperlig dining table by Hay. If you are on the hunt for a new dining table, I suggest you hold off till October for this beauty. The next designer collaborating with Ikea is Tom Dixon. I’m sure no real introduction is required of this renowned British furniture and homewares designer. His collection was called Delaktig, and was co-created with 75 design students from Royal college of Art, Parsons School of Design and Musashino University.

Delaktig means ‘being involved’ in Swedish, and is an open platform that inspires people to make it their own. This furniture collection is a base for many different functionalities. You can add pillows, side tables, lamps and headboard, as you go. Here’s an up close view I shot at the event.

What do you think of the sofa? I can see it in stylish office spaces and large industrial loft apartments. Here’s a shot with my pink Kate Spade New York handbag.I think the pink contrasted well with the the grey don’t you think?

The Delaktig collection is due to launch in February 2018. This is Bea Åkerlund, a stylist to celebrities such as Madonna, Beyoncé, Katy Perry, Rihanna and Lady Gaga, to name a few.

Ikea has chosen to collaborate with Bea, because of her unique sense of style and her passion for individuality. Her collection with Ikea is called Omedelbar, and is launching in March 2018.

Those black hands that Bea is holding up against her head in the photo, are actually wall hooks from her collection. Here’s a little moodboard from Bea’s collection that I shot at the event. Here’s an alphabet light from her collection. I can see this lips cushion in Boudoir styled bedrooms. This is the moodboard filled with photos of the one of a kind figurines commissioned by Ikea as part of the Ikea Art Event series. This evil eye glass is by Ludvig Lofgren. This is by James Jarvis. It’s a peace sign and not so polite sign when turned around.

The Ikea art Event series will be launching in April 2018. This is the Spänst collection by Chris Stamp. He has managed to incorporate street culture and sports into the home. He has created storage for shoes and Ikea’s first ever skateboard.

The collection is due to launch in May 2018.

Here is the collection by Ikea’s social entrepreneurs, due to be released later this year and 2018. Aren’t these pieces so pretty? At the Democratic Design Day, Ikea also announced their future collaborations, going into 2019. I was so excited to learn about their collaboration with the founder of Byredo, Ben Gorham.

Byredo produces the amazing perfumes and scented candles. I can’t wait to see what Ben comes up with in this collaboration. I appreciate this is a very long post, but I couldn’t resist showing you the Ikea after party, set amongst the beautiful countryside of Almhult in Sweden.

Beautiful Lupins on display. It was a Midsummers night party Delicious cocktails on arrival. A beautiful barn converted for the evening’s festivities. Tables beautifully set. I love how wild flowers picked from the fields just outdoors of the party venue adorned the table. There was also Swedish folk music to greet us and a fun disco with saxophonist to end the night. The food was absolutely delicious.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this post about Ikea’s Democratic Design day. I had such a fun time on the press event. It’s always amazing to go behind the scenes. I’m looking forward to showing some interiors styled posts using Ikea products in the next few weeks. Watch this space.

Wishing you a wonderful week ahead.

( The post comprise a selection of photos by myself and press images from Ikea. I was invited to Sweden on the press trip by Ikea UK. All views in this post are my own).

Chelsea Flower show 2017 with Whistlefish. Chelsea Flower Show is always an annual highlight for me, so I was excited when I was invited by Whistlefish.

Whistlefish is a Cornwall based company that sells the prettiest of greeting cards, art prints and gifts.

The company has just turned 21 years old, and I was interested to read about the owner Lyn Thompson’s successful journey . She has now established ten gallery shops across Cornwall and Devon.

I love the idea that they search for fresh talent, and so artists are being invited to submit their work for potential collaborations.

Above are some of the beautiful Whistlefish greeting cards that I got to take home last weekend. This beautiful apron by Whistlefish was designed specially for this year’s Chelsea Flower show.

Now to show you my picks from the 2017 show.
This was one of my favourite gardens, and it’s called the Anneka Rice Colour Cutting Garden.

It was designed by Sarah Raven, and was inspired by the vibrant use of colour by renowned home and furniture designer, Tricia Guild.

Check out this secluded seating area. Love the pops of pinks and violets here. It really evoked that beautiful serenity of an English garden. Here’s another one of my favourite plants, potted succulents. Next, is ‘City Living’ by Kate Gould. This imagined apartment block was designed with an outdoor deprived urban space in mind, hence the introduction of lots of indoor greenery.

It was set on a 12×6 plot and built over three levels, featuring basement, mezzanine and top floor.

I was amazed to see how plants in small spaces could be creatively introduced, to create stylish living areas. How wonderful is this basement seating space? Love the 3 dimensional effect tiles and the hanging foliage too. Here’s another view.  Since this was the basement part of the house, Kate has used hardy shade loving Tropical plants. This is another view of the space, from outside looking in. That bright pop of orange from the giant Anglepoise lamp looked great against the lush of green. This was the upper deck area shaded by a pergola.

There was a great interplay of light and shadow here, with the stripes from the pergola being cast on the ground. Everywhere I turned, were flowers waiting for their photos to be taken.

How cute was this bronze sculpture bird bath? It’s by Willie Wildlife sculptures. Did you know that if you went on the last day of Chelsea Flower show, there’s usually a sell off of the plants? Hence, I’m now the proud owner of some of the flowers from the garden abve.
Since I am a lover of balloons, foliage and the Monstera leaf, I couldn’t walk by and not snap this image right? This is an aspect of the M&G Best in show garden for 2017. It was a garden inspired by an abandoned Maltese quarry.

These monumental blocks of limestone were planted with grasses, evergreens, perennials and ground cover unique to the arid Mediterranean island. Here’s a wider lens view, which probably gives you a better idea of their sizes and heights.

This was the Bermuda Triangle garden designed by Jack Dunckley. A large palm tree sat at the centre and became dramatically lit red at night from the laser cut aluminium sheetings.

Furthermore, each triangle of the garden, housed a mini sanctuary of tropical plants. Wished I was there in the evening to see it in its glory. Hope you have enjoyed my picks from Chelsea Flower show, and that it has inspired you to visit next year. Most of all, a big thank you to Whistlefish for inviting me. Do take a peek at Whistlefish’s gorgeous stationery store online. You’ll probably find something you love, once you start browsing.

Finally, I wish you all a lovely day and I will probably be back soon this week with a Summer refresh of my living room, so do check back to see. (All photography are by me, Geraldine Tan, editor of Little big Bell, with the exception of the 2 photos of the models provided by Whistlefish. )

I have just returned from an amazing trip to Milan, with the car brand MINI. I was invited to view their MINI LIVING installation called ‘Breathe’ for Salone del Mobile 2017.

Urbanisation combined with a shortage of space for housing is fast becoming a global issue. To help address this issue, the project is exploring different concepts for shared space living, with an eye on also reducing our carbon footprint.

MINI has always had beautifully designed cars with a low carbon footprint, coming from its compact size and efficient engine. The MINI Living project is a testament to their brand value for a more ‘conscious’ way of living, whilst still embracing design. MINI LIVING was launched in 2016 under the creative direction of architect, Oke Hauser (on right).

This year the project commissioned Brooklyn based architect firm SO-IL, to help them showcase this architectural concept for future urban living. Ilias Papageorgiou (on left) represented SO-IL at the event. Here is the BREATHE installation for MINI LIVING. The theme for the build was ‘Air, Light and Water’.

The installation was pre-fabricated after design, then transported to Milan. This home ‘on the move’ could perhaps be a concept solution to the ever increasing global mobility and migration of society.

The structure comprised of a steel frame with a tough, porous white fabric, that filtered light and purified air. There were no bricks and mortar in sight.
The space is designed to be an interactive experience between the three people who would live there and with their surrounding environment.
Here is the simple but perfectly functional kitchen. The basin in the kitchen with its water sourced from the collected rainwater on the roof. The space is for three people to share.  See how the light filters through.
Does this concept challenge your view on material possessions?  Perhaps we should all be thinking of simplifying our lives with a capsule wardrobe? Bedroom number one. Here is the shower area.

This space really makes me think of how the lines between interaction and privacy becomes blurred.  It truly was a beautiful green space indoors. Here is bedroom number two which could also double up as the living room. Looks pretty cosy doesn’t it? At the top of the installation was an oasis of green. It was a communal space filled with oxygen giving plants, and a place for growing vegetables to encourage self sufficiency.

There was also a rain water collection system that channeled water into the home for usage. Alongside the MINI LIVING installation, were three other related commissions.

The first was a live creative project by Assemble, a collective of architects from London with their project called: ‘A factory as it might be’.

Assemble showcased how collaborative working could lead to the production of beautiful clay plates, using natural resources. The plates were then used at the dinner party that I attended.  Pigment dyes used to colour the clay plates. The second commission was the Conscious Café by Laila Gohar, which demonstrated how sustainable living can be a reality.

Wild mushrooms that grew indoors, later made it to our plates for dinner. The leftover fruits from harvest were dried in the sun to make fruit leathers for dessert.

The last commission was an interactive exhibition in a darkened room, playing with the elements of light, water and air by Zaven ( no photo shown here). Here is the installation by night. Doesn’t it look beautiful?

It was so wonderful to tour and experience the MINI LIVING space. It has definitely given me food for thought. Are those questions now swirling in your head too?

I was interested to read about a recent interview by MINI with Ilias Papageorgiou. He was asked whether he thought this collaboration with MINI LIVING brought the idea of sustainable communal space closer to reality.

In his answer, the designer argued that it had been an important exploration of relationships between people and between people and their environments. It was certainly a great platform for researching new ideas and this small beginning can ultimately have a large impact.

Finally, I would love to know what you think. Do you feel that there may be elements here that are a future vision of our homes? If so, what would you like to take with you?

( All photography are by Geraldine Tan, editor of Little Big Bell. This is a sponsored collaborative post with MINI, but all views and opinions are my own).

Search the blog