Essentials for modern living

If you only had 50 things to furnish your apartment, what would they be and look like? This was the starting point for a brief by IKEA, and design manager Marcus Engman, to ECAL, University of Art and Design Lausanne.

“It’s always important for us to have good relations with great design students around the world, and the students at ECAL have proven to some be of them,” says Marcus Engman, design manager at IKEA.

“A company like IKEA engaging with a school like ECAL challenges both parties around contemporary design practices and proves that design can be collaborative as well as democratic,” explains ECAL director Alexis Georgacopoulos.

In the prospect of the Democratic Design Days in Älmhult, Sweden, IKEA, with design manager Marcus Engman and his design team invited 2nd year Bachelor Industrial Design students of ECAL to rethink basics, fundamental pieces of furniture and accessories for life and work at home – flexible and functional products – with a strong focus on affordability and sustainability.

“Together with IKEA’s design team, we tried to give the students a real taste of how it is to work with the largest furniture brand in the world: visiting their headquarters in Sweden and bringing them to factories in Poland. Something that only a handful of designers will experience in their career,” says ECAL Head of Bachelor Industrial Design Stéphane Halmaï-Voisard.

The result is beyond expectations and the ideas are a true reflection of how people live today, challenging the traditional way of looking at furniture

Under the guidance of designer Nicholai Wiig-Hansen, familiar with the values and work processes of IKEA, the students produced a range of 50 essentials across all product areas, from chairs to cutlery, and textiles to lightings.

“IKEA is about group effort, and I think teamwork is about designers leaving their ego aside for a moment and pushing together as a whole. This is something we unfortunately don’t see enough in school projects where the process is often linear and idealised,” says Nicholai.

“The result is beyond expectations and the ideas are a true reflection of how people live today, challenging the traditional way of looking at furniture,” says Marcus.