IKEA Partners with African Designers in Collection Launch

Mark Babatunde March 03, 2017
Design Indaba designs in 2013. Photo credit: Riccardo Pugliese

Swedish furniture giant IKEA has announced a partnership with leading African designers in the launch of its Africa-themed furniture collection for 2019.

An IKEA collaboration with the South Africa-based creative hub Design Indaba will see leading fashion designers, architects, and illustrators from across the continent combine to produce a flagship collection for 2019, reports CNN.

IKEA Head of Design Marcus Engman says, “The creative explosion, which is taking place in several cities around Africa right now, is something IKEA is curious about. We want to learn from this and spread it to the rest of the world.”

The collaboration will draw from the Indaba network’s pool of top designers, architects, and talents from countries, such as South Africa, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Rwanda, Egypt, and Angola.

The Project’s Genesis

IKEA and Design Indaba

Collaboration between IKEA and Design Indaba. Photo credit: IKEA

During a chance meeting between Engman and Ravi Naidoo, the founder of Design Indaba, the idea for the project materialized.

“We set the scope together — the ideas we wanted, what to dig deeper in to,” says Engman.

“We pulled the ideas together, wrote them down, and that became our not-so-formal brief.”

Many of the designers, including Rwandan architect Christian Benimana to Senegalese fashion designer Selly Raby Kane, were invited to a brainstorming session in the woods of Almhult, Ikea’s headquarters in Sweden.

Naidoo says his organisation’s partnership with IKEA is the product of a shared commitment toward showcasing the best of authentic African designs.

“It’s affirming for the world’s biggest furniture and homeware store to partner with Design Indaba to curate their first African collection, and we have learnt so much from the collaboration to date – the designers and ourselves,” Naidoo said.


Ikea is a globally respected maker of household furniture. Photo credit: IKEA

The first design prototypes will be on display at the 22nd Design Indaba conference in Cape Town this March. The collection will launch in stores worldwide in 2019.

The brainstorming sessions by the designers have reportedly yielded such an assortment of ideas that Engman admits to being spoiled for choices.

“Right now we have far too many ideas, we are on everything from colourful padlocks to a flat pack house and almost everything in between, from textiles to pieces of furniture,” Engman said.

However before the launch in 2019, Engman believes the final collection will be whittled down to a manageable number.

Naidoo believes the IKEA partnership could provide the needed global exposure for African designs.

“The whole world needs a bit of Africa, the African aesthetic is not terribly visible in homes around the world.”

“IKEA is a kind of a bellwether company in the world of design. It won’t be too long before other design companies are emboldened enough to commission African designers,” Naidoo said.

The annual Design Indaba Conference of Creativity takes place at Cape Town’s Artscape Theatre from 1 to 3 March 2017.

Last Edited by:Abena Agyeman-Fisher Updated: June 19, 2018


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