This morning IKEA unveiled the line up for the 2021 Art Event including Daniel Arsham, Humans since 1982, Sabine Marcelis, Gelchop, and Stefan Marx during a virtual preview and Q&A event hosted by Henrik Most, Creative Leader for the collection. Since 2015, IKEA has collaborated with a roaster of world class artists including Virgil Abloh, Junko Mizuno, Craig Green, Chiaozza, Yasuto Sasada, James Jarvis, and more on collections that have included everything from glass figurines to rugs, to street art, photography, and drawings. The Art Event aims to bring contemporary art into the homes of many people at a very accessible price point. 2021 marks the sixth edition of the Art Event which is “all about the magic that happens when the line between art and functional design blurs.”

Each artist has taken objects that are ordinary and recognizable and added their imaginary spin in order to shift our vision of what we’d expect. So for Daniel Arsham, it’s a clock with a sweeping silk like backdrop and for Japan’s Gelchop, it’s an Allen Key that’s actually a light; each piece elevates the ordinary into the extraordinary.  The aim of the collection is the blur the lines of how we live with art, so many of the items can be picked up and used as well as displayed and reflected upon.

The collection will range in price from $19.99 to $69.99 and hits stores starting May 1st worldwide including IKEA Canada and Take a closer look at the pieces in the collection below followed by some notes.

IKEA Art Event 2021 at a glance [Source: IKEA]
Moments of wonder – Sabine Marcelis, Rotterdam, Netherlands
Sabine Marcelis is motivated by getting to the core of a concept or a material. Her designs often have a minimal quality in order to emphasise the specif- ic properties and effects of the materials used. Her work is defined by this sensitivity to materials – she hopes her designs create “a moment of wonder” and compel an emotional response and curious engagement in viewers. She believes that by art and functional design coming together, art becomes less “untouchable” and can be experienced by more people. For her contribution to IKEA ART EVENT 2021, Marcelis was inspired by Italian painter Lucio Fontana’s slashed canvases and wanted to translate this simple gesture – a cut through a surface – to a light fitting. “I think a lot of inspiration comes from doing,” she says and the design for her IKEA wall lamps emerged through experimentation with folding and cutting paper. She considers the wall lamps, which come in two different sizes and can change five different col- ours, to be a departure from her usual lighting designs, where she works with white light passing through different (often transparent) materials. In contrast, her IKEA lamps explore the wonderful effects created by a dynamic light em- anating from a single, solid surface. According to the designer, their function is to create an atmosphere at home – they can change the mood of any space.
Shining a light on an iconic IKEA item – Gelchop, Tokyo, Japan
Gelchop’s ideas often emerge from thinking about how to improve the quality of daily life – according to the collective, the inspiration for their pieces “comes from everyday ‘aha’ moments”. By combining ordinary items with unexpected elements to make new objects, their work grants a humourous and surreal view on living with things. For this collection, they have put their own spin on what is arguably the most iconic IKEA item of all: the Allen key, and have created a table lamp and torch (available in metallic blue and silver) based around its design. In their view, the humble Allen key has not got the attention it deserves, so they decided to shine a light on it (quite literally) and transform this tiny yet very functional object into an absurdly large version of itself, with a new purpose. The modest Allen key has new value as it’s no longer just a practical tool to assist in the making of furniture, but a fantastic art object too.
A poetic take on technology – Humans since 1982, Stockholm, Sweden
Creative duo Humans since 1982 refuse to be labelled as either artists or de- signers, instead they want their work to reflect the dynamism of human na- ture. Since their studies, they have been interested in dismantling the border between functional design and art, which they believe to be unnecessary as everything has a function of some kind. In their practice, the duo often take iconic objects and recognisable signs and symbols out of their usual habitats and put them into new environments, with new functions. Much of their work examines technology, which they call “a tool for efficiency” and gives it a less tangible, more poetic quality in order to provide a fresh perspective on its place in society. Their contribution to IKEA ART EVENT 2021 follows this train of thought – they take the drone, a modern technological object associated with surveillance, and put it into an aluminium display case resembling a butterfuly collection. By pinning the drones inside the cabinet, they make us think about how strange it is for a present-day technological item to be static as though it is a timeless artefact or specimen. The duo hope that their wall pieces will resonate with IKEA customers; they believe that they will fit into any kind of home.
The joy of expression – Stefan Marx, Berlin, Germany
“I always have a pen and some kind of paper with me,” Stefan Marx says about the central place drawing takes in his practice. Inspired by everyday life, the Berlin-based artist makes typographical artworks, based on conversations he overhears among friends and strangers, as well as lyrics and sentences plucked from his favourite songs and books. He is interested in how the arrangement of certain words or phrases can express a mood or feeling. Marx wants to bring joy into the home through art, and he hopes his contribu- tion – a vase and a throw – will do exactly that, providing something special to use and admire daily. Like much of his work, the two products boast emotive phrases: the familiar wail of “I’m so so so sorrryyyy” on the vase, and “I wait here for your forever as long as it takes” on the throw, which the artist scribbled in his notebook, after seeing the message graffitied onto a wall in London. These are pieces where you can add your own personal touch – flowers can be arranged in the vase as an expression of love or as an apology; the throw can be folded up and unfolded, carried with you and around you. Marx believes that these are pieces that you will appreciate everyday as they combine an emotional impact with function.
Quiet manipulations – Daniel Arsham, New York, USA
Since his earliest paintings and experience working in stage design (creating sets for choreographer Merce Cunningham) Daniel Arsham has been interest- ed in the subject of time. It’s only fitting then that his contribution to IKEA ART EVENT 2021 would be a table clock that also reflects his ongoing preoccupation with questions of movement, materials and architecture.Arsham’s clock combines his fascination with time with his interest in the idea of architecture in movement. In general, moving walls and buildings are presumed to be caused by a destructive force such as a storm or earthquake; in contrast, Arsham wants to create ‘“quiet manipulations” that you may not immediately notice. His timepiece is an expression of this idea: it appears to be in a state of gentle motion, or of time flying by… He believes it fits into the “larger universe” of his practice.Driven by the playful interactions that occur between people, ideas and mediums, Arsham is fascinated by how everyday household objects can be trans- formed into exciting conversation pieces. By participating in this year’s IKEA Art Event, he hopes his contribution will bring art into the homes of the many. He considers the table clock to be a striking example of function merging with the emotional resonance associated with seeing a great work of art.