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Ikea announces collaboration with designers from 7 African countries

Look for it in 2019

ikea furniture
The PS 2017 collection, launching this month

If you haven’t noticed, everybody’s favorite purveyor of affordable Scandi-cool furniture and home goods has been covering a lot of new ground lately. Indeed, within the last two years, Swedish retailer Ikea has unveiled everything from collections inspired by Brazil and India, to a line of wireless charging products, to a boundary-pushing project with British designer Tom Dixon—that is all in addition to a new P.S. collection full of unconventional ideas.

And its latest undertaking? An upcoming collaboration with leading South African design platform Design Indaba, focusing on “modern rituals and the importance they play in the home.” To this end, Ikea’s in-house designers will be working closely with designers, architects, artists, and creatives hailing from South Africa, Kenya, Senegal, Egypt, Angola, Ivory Coast, and Rwanda.

You can peep the full team involved here, but they include Senegalese fashion designer Selly Raby Kane (Beyoncé is a fan!) and sustainability-focused architect Christian Benimana (the Rwanda Programs Director at Mass Design Group, a Curbed Groundbreaker.)

The Ikea and Design Indaba collab cohort
Design Indaba

In a phone interview with Curbed, Ikea’s Design Manager Marcus Engman says the real work will begin early next month, when Ikea designers will meet with their new collaborators in Cape Town for the Design Indaba Conference, running from March 1 to 3. The collection is expected to wrap up in 2019.

The Brazil-inspired Tillfälle collection launched in March 2016

Since Engman assumed his current role, Ikea has dramatically ramped up special collections arising from all sorts of collaborations—and that’s no coincidence. In a 2015 interview with Dezeen, Engman says he’s trying to shake Ikea’s image as a seller of “cheap stuff” and to “bring the surprise” back to the brand through design. All of these new projects, which hold experimentation and open minds at their core, are conscious efforts to achieve that.

The India-inspired Svärtan line by Swedish fashion designer Martin Bergström and launched in September 2016

Engman says Ikea is famous for its Scandinavian design heritage, but they have to keep taking it to the next level. “If you want energy, you need to create friction, and there’s good friction between cultures,” he says. "Then something new happens.”