IKEA has revealed a collection of statement rugs designed by a group of contemporary artists, including fashion designer Virgil Abloh and London-based designer Craig Green. Green’s rug design features two colourful birds against a striped background Created for the fifth series of the IKEA Art Event, each rug in the collection is designed to be a “statement piece” that will become “art in the home”.
The Swedish brand asked eight contemporary artists from around the world to each design a rug in their own artistic style, including Off-White founder Abloh, British designer Green, and New York-based artist Noah Lyon. French tattoo artist Supakitch, Japanese artist Misaki Kawai, Brooklyn-based Chiaozza, Korean artist Seulgi Lee, and Polish artist Filip Pagowski also contributed designs for the collection. Design duo Chiaozza decorated a rug with their signature cartoon-like plant designs
“These are rugs that will become exclamation marks in the home, whether you walk all over them, hang them on a wall, or make them your own any other way,” said IKEA’s creative leader Henrik Most. The collection presents 12 different rugs that are the results of what happens when you “mash up age-old tapestry and rug techniques with the worlds of avant-guard fashion, tattoo art and sculpture.”
The rugs are all handmade in wool and natural materials, meaning that no two are the same. “There are tiny, natural imperfections that give each one a unique expression,” continued the creative leader. Abloh created a new take on the traditional oriental rug by printing the words “KEEP OFF” across the centre
Abloh’s first contribution is a monochrome, graphic interpretation of the traditional oriental rug, emblazoned with the statement “KEEP OFF” in white, block lettering. The fashion designer also designed a second rug, made to look like a pixelated digital image of a mountainous landscape. As half of the rug is blank, it appears to be a webpage in the process of loading – marked by the words “STILL LOADING” printed across its centre.
“I wanted an ironic take on the traditional attitude to furnishing where the living room is just a showroom, not somewhere you sit,” said Abloh. “I think the parental “don’t ruin the furniture” kind of thing has really impacted how younger people think of furniture today.” Green’s design for the collection, titled Paradise, features two colourful birds against a striped background, while collaborative craft duo Chiaozza have decorated a rug with their signature cartoon-like plant designs.
Known for her playful and colourful designs, Kawai’s multicoloured rug takes the form of an animal family. Different cat-like animals sit beside and atop one another – one features a bright blue mane, while another is pink with red spots. “Different pile heights make you want to cuddle the fantastic cats, and so the rug is as much of a tactile experience as a visual one,” said IKEA.
“I don’t like rules – I play around with materials and simple shapes and add some nice to it. I think keeping it simple adds mystery – anyone looking at the piece can start to wonder about it,” said Kawai. Lyon designed a cartoonish black and white rug IKEA shared the designs at its annual two-day Democratic Design Days conference held in Älmhult, Sweden. At the opening, Most said that democratic design is the “heart and soul of IKEA,” but that they also believe in “democratic art”.
According to the brand, the collection is a continuation of its “quest to make great art accessible to everyone,” and Most hopes that, thanks to the variety of artistic expressions, the rugs will appeal to the masses, as well as being affordable. “We all know that a rug has a basic function, it’s good at keeping the acoustics in a home, but at the same time a rug can also be an aesthetic expression that defines the space in the same way that you can have a painting on the wall,” added Most.
“Looking back, rugs have a long tradition of being perceived as art rather than something we primarily choose for their function. This collection gave us the opportunity to explore the traditions and place them in a modern context,” he continued. The IKEA Art Event rug collection will be available for a limited time starting in 2019. Also announced at the conference was a collection of ornate accessories designed by Swedish ceramic and glass artist Per B Sundberg and a rug that looks like a huge IKEA receipt designed Virgil Abloh.