Tuesday, 13 June 2017

IKEA is here in India. An aankhon dekhi from Almhult Sweden, IKEA's birthplace.

Hej dear Peeps,

If you've followed me on Instagram and Facebook you'd know I was in Almhult, Sweden last week, the place where the iconic company IKEA was born; now the Product Development and Design hub for this much loved Swedish household brand.

Invited to the IKEA DEMOCRATIC  DESIGN DAY 2017 - a big, global, vibrant showcase of design, products, future collections, product developers and designers, collaborators and the happy vivacious IKEA people. All in a setting brought together with people, music, freshly baked and delicious food and yes, drinks! Such a happy place to be :).

I'm back totally energised seeing so much up close, with some fabulous sneak peeks at the upcoming collections, having seen the future idea for our homes that IKEA is envisioning & collaborating on and coming back with the imminence of buying IKEA products in India (and in Mumbai). Seriously excited!

"There's an air of Celebration about opening in India," chirped Mia Lundstrom, Creative Director Life@Home IKEA - the impressive lady in Indian Ikat and silver; chairing and championing the research and insights that provide the bedrock for IKEA's India entry.

As for me, having lived away from India and having had easy access to IKEA products, IKEA has been a vital and substantial part of my life (setting up and settling down) after marriage and has been a big part of my child's toddlerhood up-untill the 9 years of his happy life. In fact, a significant part of our everyday kitchenware, tableware, kitchen equipment, storage boxes, much of my bed linen, table linen continue to be from IKEA, despite having been back in India for close to two years.  

So, when I sat down to blog today I asked myself 'What am I feeling so excited about?' It cannot just be the imminent easy access to IKEA binge buying. It's a much bigger and bolder pattern that has become obvious to me after this IKEA immersion. It's the synchrony, the synergy of mindset between us as Indians and the values behind the Democratic Design Framework that IKEA is holding so close to its future vision and products. A global brand with a fundamental promise to deliver on Form, Functionality, Affordability, Quality and Sustainability—more categorically now than it has ever done before.

"We want to shake the world up, make it a better place. And we thought we'd start by making everyday life better": so begins The IKEA Democratic Design Manifesto.

The Manifesto goes on to say "...Our mission is bigger than just design, bigger than just low prices. Our mission is the almost impossible idea to combine beautiful form with good function, long-lasting quality, produced in a sustainable value chain with low price.:" and when I read this I see the India- relevance ticked in all the boxes.

√ Beautiful form

√ Good functionality

√ Long Lasting  and √Low Price is already an Indian obsession  

√and socially relevant Indian entrepreneurs can locally deliver as Sustainability partners at various levels in the IKEA value chain {Some are already front-running IKEA partners - watch out for my post on this big IKEA opportunity}

So when I met up with Maria O'Brian, Creative Leader for IKEA on the sidelines (whose role it is to predict, forecast and thus influence trends and styles for future IKEA collections) she seemed wide-eyed and excited about this market, as though India is being looked at through a whole new "wow, this phenomena is happening here also" kind of viewpoint and for me, that's what globalisation is about! The realisation that we are interested in many of the same things and the view that we have lot of similarities from a humanistic standpoint - Its time has come!

On my prompt to forecast a trend for India, Maria pointed me to the big over-arching opportunity in the surge towards urbanisation and sustainability as well as the growing consciousness around 'How Do I express Who I am' amongst the India consumer. I was told that the IKEA insights show a growing affinity towards a more pronounced Individualism here and IKEA sees this already manifested in the home furnishing segment and in the way the Indian consumer is beginning to demand modification and personalisation of home products.  This trend, when I check, is certainly true for me and my extended circle!

To me, combining this trend with the Indian ethos of recycling, repurposing, quality and 'How can IKEA be more Indian?' is where it's all hinged at. 

Overall, as an IKEA India customer-in-waiting to be able to drive down to an IKEA store over a weekend, spend hours swooning over home-decor displays, buying some of the best designed home furniture, furnishing and essentials without bursting our wallets and making a meal of some of the best Scandinavian delights and gorgeous coffee on the way out; our Time Has (almost) Come.

My Pick, if you may, from the new collection :

√The immensely versatile Flottebo Sofa-bed-everything (Just what every living area always needed, a dream for the space parched Mumbai apartments)

At the IKEA Democratic Design Day : Design collaboration with the much celebrated Tom Dixon; with Marcus Engman, Head of Design IKEA
Although, the Flottebo a little too big to carry home in the new Yellow IKEA bag! Nonetheless...

Now to have our very own collection of these Yellow bags and say no to plastic bags:)
#IKEA. #IKEAddd, #IKEAToday

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