(jiří macek) The PS designer series from the Swedish manufacturer of furniture for the masses had an individual presentation several weeks ago during Design Week in Milan. Moreover, it recently won the prestigious Editors Award ICFF 2009 Award in New York (the Křehký collection won this award last year). It’s no wonder – the IKEA PS collection is charming, simple, full of stories, and can be found on the Czech market, including a light in the shape of a dandelion that has just ceased to blossom, which also stands for the main motive of the whole collection.
The IKEA PS series currently contains over one hundred products from dozens of designers. Even though its idea was first presented at Design Week in Milan in 1995, its crucial moment came up in 2005 when IKEA asked forty fairly obscure designers to design new products meeting IKEA standards for low prices and easy transport, all the while comprising something new and exciting. The Vallo watering can, designed by Monika Mulder, and the PS sofa bed, designed by Thomas Sandell in 1999, rank among the objects that helped IKEA to rid itself of its notoriety as a cheap manufacturer that doesn’t care about design and quality and gradually enter into the encyclopedias of contemporary design. Newer products definitely include the Ellan chair (2004, designed by Chris Martin), made from a mixture of waste timber and plastic, and the Gullspira, Mikkela, and Pelle decoration pictures, designed by Hella Jongerius and made in new factories in India. New pieces for this year boast several such objects.
The Maskros chandelier, offered in the shape of a dandelion, has been in the air for a long time – many balloon-like chandeliers are reminiscent of a dandelion that has ceased blossoming. However, Marcus Arvonen was not afraid to be literal - thus, we can enjoy the charm of the upcoming summer all year round.
The Sinka cabinet of drawers and many other objects refer to traditional Scandinavian furniture. The simple solution of opening this cabinet full of drawers and the designer’s use of ordinary plywood combine the poetics of a tailor’s workshop with the lightness of contemporary design. The solution to the assignment of easy transportation is also interesting. The drawers are of various sizes, not only to simplify sorting the objects one wants to keep, but to also fit into one another during transport - like a matryoshka doll.
The Nybygge shelf (designed by Francis Cayouette) and the August sofa (designed Nike Karlsson) seem to align with our notions of traditional Scandinavia design material. Protestant society, to which sumptuousness is alien, imprinted Scandinavian design with simplicity and a humble approach to natural materials. Thus, the Nybygge shelf looks like it was growing in the heart of a forest. A sofa could hardly be more simple or beautiful.
Even though the IKEA PS designers are relatively unknown to the world, their list does include a few big stars. Thomas Sandell and Hella Jongerius have already been mentioned. However, the list continues: for instance, the popular Front studio has designed the Svarva master table and floor lamps for IKEA PS. When constructing it, they first cut various wooden rods into tiny blocks and then strung them like beads. Thus, a tender and fragile lamp was created that seems to hold still in space by strength of will.
And one last new piece – the Karljohan table. The name means “porcino” in Swedish - the shape of this friendly stool found inspiration from this type of mushroom. The stool can also serve as a table or a bed – see the IKEA PS website where it is demonstrated by designer Christian Hallerod himself.
By the way, one should really have a look at that website. We can all discover the IKEA PS world on our own thanks to a playful animation about ideas as seeds that spread from a dandelion to the whole world. Apart from gnomes and musicians, the animation includes live entries from designers who talk about their designs and implementations. However, IKEA itself is the biggest story. It started in 1943 when 17-year-old Ingvar Kamprad first sold IKEA products to his neighbors. Currently, there are over 200 IKEA stores in more than 30 countries. Therefore, the impact of Scandinavian lifestyle and design is constantly growing.
Ikea PS Maskros, design: Marcus Arvonen