Beyoncé’s Stylist Dishes on Her New Ikea Line
We spoke to designer Bea Åkerlund about the quirky new collection.
Published Jan 31, 2018 9:00 AM
One quick look at Ikea’s upcoming collaboration with Swedish stylist and designer Bea “B.” Åkerlund is all it takes to realize that this partnership is unlike any other the typically minimalist Scandinavian retailer has undergone before. But according to Åkerlund, that’s kind of the point: When we spoke to the designer, she spoke about the importance of highlighting individuality and creativity in the line.
“Some people might say, ‘Oh, this is a really crazy collection from Ikea,’ but to me, life is about having fun and not taking everything so seriously; I really wanted to inspire people to think outside the box when they look at the collection, and splurge on something fun they wouldn’t purchase every day,” Åkerlund tells Domino. “I created the collection in line with my mantra (‘B’ Who You Are), which is something I live by.”
The collaboration, initially announced in mid 2017, came about after Ikea’s head designer heard Åkerlund on a Swedish radio show and reached out to discuss creating a collection that shared Åkerlund’s trademark style. Åkerlund, who says she had long harbored a passion for home decor—and had previously designed furniture for personal use and for her showroom in LA— immediately agreed.
The limited-edition Omedelbar collection, which sticks to a palette of black, white, deep red, and gold, has hints of Åkerlund in every piece. Which is really only fitting, as Åkerlund herself was the inspiration for the line. “I always do things for other people, and this is my collection, so the collection should represent me,” she says. “I looked at all the things I love, and made a collection from that.”
While blending her style—which the designer describes as “a little bit goth, a little bit punk, and a little bit crazy”—with the classic Ikea qualities customers know and love, Åkerlund admits to toning it down a little. “I didn’t want to go too dark, because I thought that wouldn’t appeal to the mass market, and I wanted there to be something in the collection that spoke to every single person.”
With 34 pieces that range from a $1.29 shopping bag to a $249 black armchair, there is definitely something at every price point. Spanning everything from larger furniture items to quirky accent pieces, fans of the stylist’s work—who incidentally include Beyoncé and Madonna—will be able to incorporate her design in both statement-making and more minimalist ways…. you know, if you can call a large, lip-shaped pillow reminiscent of Åkerlund’s signature red lipstick “minimal.”
A simple black pillow includes a scrawled “Be Who You Are” in gold embroidery, which Åkerlund has said is indicative of the line’s ethos. The black throw shares the same messaging, and was designed with practicality in mind.
“The blanket is probably the item I use the most because I’m always cold. In Sweden, everyone gives you blankets when you go to a restaurant and sit outside, so I thought it would be great if there was a blanket that could turn into a poncho; I made marks so you can cut the blanket so it becomes [one],” explains the designer.
The red lip motif features prominently throughout the collection. It’s an important stylistic element to include in a decor line dedicated to herself, as Åkerlund says she never leaves the house without her red lipstick. “That’s actually where I started with the collection,” she shares about her signature red lips. “I started with the lip pillows and then thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we have these giant stickers that you can put on anything?’ You can cover an entire wall or mark your luggage, or you can put it on a letter—I always kiss my letters.” In addition to the lip-shaped pillow and wall stickers, Omedelbar also includes plain white pillows with lipstick marks printed all over, and otherwise simple glasses with a cheeky lipstick mark on the rim.
Åkerlund’s background in fashion shines in the collaboration, with a surprisingly minimal gold clothing rack as one of the standout items. More eccentric pieces, like a crown, black wire filigree jewelry display hands, and a Victorian shoe-shaped vase round out the line. The self-described “fashion activist” is known for her bold style choices, so it’s no surprise that Omedelbar reflects that.
“Well, I wanted to base the collection on the fact that I am a stylist, I am a fashion activist, and I live for fashion. I wanted to transform what I do into furniture, so that’s why I made a top hat bowl—I wanted to use the fashion elements that stick out to me and most represent who I am,” Åkerlund explains.
Described as “a hybrid between goth and Hollywood glamour,” the line is definitely a risk for the normally innocuous Ikea. But for maximalist shoppers who have been waiting for something a little more fun and out of the box, Omedelbar may just be the perfect collection.
And as for Åkerlund, this is only the beginning. When asked whether we could expect more unique home decor from her in the future, the stylist had a pretty resolute answer.
“Absolutely! I feel like it’s my new calling in life,” says Åkerlund. “I had so much fun doing it. I think the best part is that home decor is forever, whereas clothes come and go and get lost in your closet. But I’m sitting in my office and my entire collection is here. I don’t like to follow trends; I like to design things that are timeless. And I get to look at it every day.”
The Omedelbar collection will be available in all US stores starting February 2018.
This story was originally published on January 19, 2018. It was updated with new information on January 31, 2018.
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