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Courtesy of IKEA

When Marisol Centeno and her family go to Chapultepec Park in Mexico City for an afternoon, she doesn’t just tote a single bottle of wine and half a loaf of bread—her bag is packed to the brim. “There are no small celebrations in Mexico,” says Centeno, a textile artist committed to the idea of design as an agent of social change. “We’ll bring a whole chicken and a huge Pepsi.” So when Centeno, along with eight other Latin American creatives, was asked by IKEA to create products for its new Ömsesidig collection, she devised an extra-large cooler bag with long straps and small compartments on the outside to make sure there’s a spot for all the flatware and napkins, too.

The 30-piece assortment, which will hit IKEA stores starting in April, is centered around outdoor gatherings, and each participating artist interpreted the task through the lens of their own traditions. The result? A colorful collection of products ranging from a tablecloth with an abstract image of the Andes mountains to salad servers inspired by the cueca, the national dance of Chile. Naturally, there are also two limited-edition riffs on the retailer’s classic Frakta bag, one designed by Centeno and the other by Colombian multimedia artist Diana Ordóñez

Courtesy of IKEA
Courtesy of IKEA

“Each and every one of us creatives are not only referencing our traditions but our contemporary lifestyle,” says Trini Guzmán, a Chilean artist who gets her inspiration from nature and from being a mom. The two cushion covers she created for the line aren’t just meant for your living room sofa—she wants you to take them with you on your picnic. “When we celebrated my daughter’s birthday at a park nearby recently, we took cushions with us,” she says. “That way, you’re not just setting up a random spot, you’re creating your own space outside.” 

Courtesy of IKEA

Thinking about the practicalities of alfresco entertaining, the makers were intentional withe their choice of materials. Mexican product designer Liliana Ovalle made sure the colorful fringe on her rice paper lanterns was detachable, just in case the breeze ever gets to be too much. Meanwhile Centeno’s picnic blanket, which is peppered with delicate illustrations of local flowers, features a waterproof backing to ensure damp grass won’t spoil the fun.

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