Two Scandinavian heavyweight brands, Ikea and Marimekko, have joined forces for a collaboration inspired by the Nordic well-being culture and sauna experience.
Set to launch in March 2023, the yet-to-be revealed collection will be sold exclusively through most Ikea stores and via its e-commerce site. The alliance is significant since this is the first time that Marimekko has designed a set of prints exclusively for a collection with a partnering brand.
Details about the collection such as the name, products, patterns and materials will be revealed closer to next year’s rollout, and executives at both companies declined to specify at this time what the collection will consist of.
The tie-up with Ikea is the latest alignment for Marimekko, which recently debuted a collaboration with Adidas that played up floral designs. Regarding the Ikea union, Marimekko’s chief marketing officer Sanna-Kaisa Niikko said that along with a shared Nordic heritage and a democratic approach to design, both companies “are committed to bringing joy to the everyday lives of people.”
“Through collaborations with brands that have similar values, Marimekko can share its design philosophy and art of printmaking with a wide global audience,” she said, adding that “the upcoming “playful” collection is meant “to bring the joy of saunas to people around the world.”
Marimekko’s Finnish heritage dates back to 1949 and founder Viljo Ratia’s textile printing company Printex. His wife, Armi, commissioned young artists to design novel, bold patterns for the company. Marimekko’s first fashion collection was presented in a fashion show in 1952 in Helsinki. Riitta Immonen designed the line and put your use patterns from such Finnish artists as Maija Isola. Marimekko printed textiles by hand until December 1973.
Ikea was founded in 1953 by Ingvar Kamprad as a mail order catalogue business based in Almhult, Sweden. Through the combination of Marimekko’s long history in the art of printmaking and Ikea’s home furnishing knowledge, the Scandinavian companies found inspiration in their shared Nordic design heritage, according to an Ikea spokeswoman. Representatives from both brands reiterated how they are creating a collection “to improve and bring joy to the everyday lives of many people, full of happy contradictions between hot and cold, simple and bold, playful and cold.”
While the wellness industry in the U.S. has taken to talking up the health benefits and detoxifying that stems from spending time in saunas, residents in Scandinavian countries have used them regularly for decades. There are an estimated 2 million saunas in Finland for its population of 5.3 million. Major companies and state institutions, as well as officials like the prime minister and president, have saunas.
Ikea and Marimekko representatives also spoke of how the Nordic well-being culture is closely connected to sauna bathing and is deeply rooted in the everyday life of people living in Nordic countries especially Finns. In 2020, UNESCO added Finnish sauna culture to its list of the Intangible Culture Heritage of Humanity. The upcoming collaboration is meant to “open the doors to this culture by enabling customers to be caring for themselves and to be closely connected with nature,” the Ikea spokeswoman said. Ikea and Marimekko have both been involved in the creative work and product design. Given its Finnish roots and strong connection to sauna culture, Marimekko was described as a vital force in the concept development.
Ikea and Marimekko have been weathering the pandemic with solid sales. For the 2021 financial year ended Aug. 31, Ikea’s total retail sales including sales of services tallied 41.9 billion euros — a 5.8 percent increase compared to fiscal year 2020. The new collaboration will have a wide audience to draw upon. Last year, Ikea’s online channels attracted more than 5 billion visitors and online sales hiked up 73 percent. As part of its efforts to further embrace energy-efficient practices and products, Ikea retired its catalogue.
Last year’s financial results for Marimekko was the best in the company’s history. Net sales increased by 23 percent, driven by string wholesale and retail gains in Finland and wholesale boosts in the Asia Pacific region and Scandinavia, as well as solid retail sales in North America. This year’s net sales are projected to increase compared to last year’s total of 152.2 million euros.
Looking ahead, Ikea expects to open an average of 50 new locations this year and next including test ones that will allow consumers to touch and try products before they buy them. Food is also in the mix in select location, such as the vegetarian eatery that Ikea unveiled as a test in its Vienna location last fall.
The starting point for all collaborations at Ikea is something the company is curious about, a challenge, or a problem that it wants to solve, according to the company spokeswoman. “We expect our collaborations to be a journey of new learnings, sharing knowledge, exploring together and coming up with something new and useful that responds to people’s needs,” she said.