Prototypes in the bottom right and left corner (vinyl player, guitar, lights)
Prototypes in the bottom right and left corner (vinyl player, guitar, lights)

Finding the right frequency

Developing the ultimate party collection, what better way to try them out than at a festival? We met Michael Nikolic, Creative Leader at IKEA of Sweden and Jesper Kouthoofd from Teenage Engineering at the HAVEN festival in Copenhagen last weekend to hear more about the upcoming collection FREKVENS.

At IKEA Democratic Design Days in Älmhult in June, news of the collaboration with Jesper Kouthoofd from the creative collective Teenage Engineering was released for the first time. Last weekend in Copenhagen the early stage prototypes from the collection were showcased at the HAVEN festival. ”This is the first time IKEA is showing prototypes at this early stage, but we wanted to see the reactions and interactions with the products,” explains Creative Leader Michael Nikolic at IKEA of Sweden.

We are just starting to shape the collection; it’s a work in progress. Together we constantly get new ideas to solutions and products that we want to keep on exploring.

IKEA set up a music lab with Teenage Engineering Sound System featuring prototypes from the upcoming collection named FREKVENS (transl. “frequency”) scheduled for release in February 2019. The collection is all about facilitating your party, wherever you may be. During the performance, the crowd got a first glimpse of a vinyl player, guitar, speaker and party lighting.

Michael & Jesper during sound check. You can see the early prototype of the vinyl player in the bottom right corner. And the lights, speaker and parts of the guitar in the left corners.
Michael & Jesper during sound check. You can see the early prototype of the vinyl player in the bottom right corner. And the lights, speaker and parts of the guitar in the left corners.

According to Michael Nikolic, Creative Leader at IKEA of Sweden, these are just small samples of what to expect from the collection. “We are just starting to shape the collection; it’s a work in progress. Together we constantly get new ideas to solutions and products that we want to keep on exploring.”

Hundreds of ideas have now become 20 prototypes. The next step is to fine-tune the products and develop a handful of them that are technically closer to the end result. Jesper Kouthoofd, Head of Design and CEO of Teenage Engineering, says the development process has been challenging but fun and rewarding. ”What I have liked most is the close collaboration where we explore ideas together and challenge each other. When developing products for Teenage Engineering we always strive to use the latest technology. But here, the starting point has been totally different, and it’s a super exciting challenge to solve.” says Jesper Kouthoofd.

One of the gigs from the IKEA Music Lab at HAVEN festival feat. Teenage Engineering Sound System.
One of the gigs from the IKEA Music Lab at HAVEN festival feat. Teenage Engineering Sound System.
Speaker prototype from the upcoming FREKVENS collection
Speaker prototype from the upcoming FREKVENS collection

Simplicity has been their motto throughout the entire process, explains Jesper. “In FREKVENS we want to make products that everybody can grasp and handle – even those who are not so tech-savvy should swiftly be able to understand and use the products. And that, I guess, has been the biggest challenge, to find the right balance between technology and user friendliness.”

In FREKVENS we want to make products that everybody can grasp, and that has been the biggest challenge, to find the right balance between technology and user friendliness.

With this in mind, Michael, being the average user without a particular interest in the newest high-tech solutions, seems like the perfect sounding board in this? “Absolutely,  I’ve been the guinea pig. If I instinctively get it, then the level of complexity is right. Jesper has gotten the task of making instruments that I can play so I can join their band…” Michael says with a laugh.

Early sketches of the FREKVENS collection.
Early sketches of the FREKVENS collection.

Aesthetically FREKVENS is a combination of Kouthoofd growing up in an IKEA home furnished by his mother and Dutch fathers more “piquant” style. “As a Swede, you are proud of IKEA. The brand and what it stands for is in your DNA. Designing FREKVENS we want to make something that feels like IKEA, and at the same time challenge how we perceive them today. It’s exciting to explore new territories, push the boundaries and challenge each other. IKEA is furniture, meatballs and soon… Party!”

The next step in their collaboration is to do a sound check to guarantee the final products to do their job. “It can’t just look great. It has to sound great as well. Or it won’t be a party,” says Jesper.

About the HAVEN festival:
This new festival in Copenhagen, held on the 11–12th of August, aims to provide visitors with new experiences in art, food and music. Each experience strives to be “independent, sensitive, and is carefully handpicked to support the next”. It was set at Refshaleøens industrial and wild setting with three main areas, all overlooking the city and harbour. Alongside Teenage Engineering, numerous artists were featured on the festival among them Iggy Pop, Feist, The National and Bon Iver.