HOME SWEDE HOME: Building off the success of its collaborations with designers like Virgil Abloh, Ikea has recruited stylist and costume designer Bea Akerlund for a limited-run home collection.
While many know Akerlund for her work with Madonna, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga and Rihanna, Ikea heard her before they actually met her. Dividing her time between Los Angeles and her hometown of Stockholm, the self-described “fashion activist” said Ikea executives contacted her after she hosted the 90-minute, non-scripted radio program “Sommar i P1.”
“It’s been around since the Sixties and it’s very prestigious to be asked to do this program. It’s everyone from politicians to actors to journalists to zookeepers. You talk and play some music, talk and play some more music. You can talk about anything and I just told my life story, which I have never done with the press or anyone. They found that inspiring,” she said.
Due out in the U.S. in mid-February, Bea Akerlund: Omedelbar features lip-shaped pillows, 3-D-printed hands, an armchair, an ottoman with storage and other home items, retailing from $2 to $249. Since everything she does in her daily life is for other people, whether that be dressing pop stars or working in fashion, she felt this project was her one chance in life to focus on herself.
“I guess you could call it a little bit of an ego trip,” Akerlund said with a laugh. “Being a stylist, we always need racks, hangers and hat boxes to organize your stuff. I also wanted to have a little fun with the collection. There are different parts of me — the Goth Bea, the punk Bea and the fun crazy Bea.” Knowing that Ikea is a worldwide brand, she wanted to cater to everyone to keep it fun to remind people life is not that serious. “You should just add a splash of color and have fun with your decor.
“The message of my collection is the mantra I live by — ‘Be who you are.’ Ten years ago when I was a struggling stylist, people told me that I was too loud and I needed to tone it down,” Akerlund said. “I just followed my heart and stayed true to myself. I try to inspire other people to not forget who they are, and to not get caught up with what other people want them to be.”
Akerlund didn’t have the chance to meet Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad before his recent death, but she visited the tiny town of Älmhult, where 85 percent of the population works at Ikea. For her Omedelbar launch during Stockholm Fashion Week, she transformed the “very boudoir” members’ only club Noppes. “These amazing set designers took my whole collection and turned it upside down on the wall. Downstairs in a big red room, there was a big red bed and films were projected on the wall.”
After the launch, Akerlund flew to Paris to style A.F. Vandevorst’s 20-year anniversary show. “We also have a T-shirt collaboration coming out in April. They are such a lovely couple [An Vandevorst and Filip Arickx] — super-inspiring. They’ve been together for 30 years. The dynamic in their relationship between who does what was really interesting to see,” Akerlund said.
Hoping for a second act with Ikea, Akerlund said, “I probably presented 200 ideas and we made 35 products, so one can hope.”