Sweden’s largest furniture retailer, IKEA, along with the Swedish electronic music group, Swedish House Mafia (SHM) are venturing into the music and creative aspects of furniture design by introducing their upcoming collection of affordable and easily accessible pieces. The goal of this collaboration is mainly to make the lives of all music lovers much easier.
The OBEGRÄNSAD Collection aims to democratise domestic music production, allowing all music fans to express their unlimited creativity. To learn more about this unique collaboration, we had the opportunity to hear from the masterminds behind the project themselves, the representatives from IKEA, James Futcher (Creative Leader) and Friso Wiersma (inhouse designer) and the members of Swedish House Mafia – Sebastian Ingrosso, Steve Angello and Axwell.
1. What does OBEGRÄNSAD stand for and what does it mean to you?
SHM: It means a lot of things, it’s unlimited. It’s unlimited to creativity. It’s unlimited to anyone who wants to purchase it and be part of it. It’s an unlimited loop of motivation and inspiration throughout the years.
IKEA: What got us excited was that we started talking about how many companies could do limited collections, but you could only do an unlimited collection with IKEA. And that’s something really great. That’s our mission in IKEA, to make things accessible for many people and the guys have grown up with IKEA in Sweden, they have that strong spirit of wanting to make this accessible for everyone. So, that naturally became the name.
2. What brought IKEA and SHM together and inspired you to start the collection?
SHM: I think it was an emotional thing for us because we grew up surrounded by IKEA, and we’ve always used IKEA to hack our first furniture in the studio set-up. For us, it was completely emotional and IKEA’s such an amazing brand that we’re so used to. It was a very natural approach to talk to IKEA.
IKEA: We were super interested to explore how we could work with music at home. We’ve become very good in bringing products in to listen to music, but we really wanted to explore this phenomenon that’s happening, (which is) MAKING music at home. We are experts in life at home, but we don’t sit with the knowledge of making music, how you make them at home, and that’s where it felt perfect (to collaborate) with Swedish House Mafia. They bring that knowledge, like Steve was saying, they used to hack IKEA furniture, they have that whole understanding of what you need to help make music at home.
3. SHM, you could’ve easily gone with any brand, but you still decided to join forces with IKEA. Was it appealing to make an affordable collection?
SHM: IKEA always had these interesting solutions. Many brands make furniture but IKEA will always have a special touch in making it very lightweight or very smart and above all, affordable. For us, it was great because the people that listen to our music, they aspire to be like us. Maybe home music producers can’t really afford a super expensive piece of furniture. That’s also one good reason why we wanted to work with IKEA.
4. You mentioned music producers—can you share more on who this collection is for, and which challenges it is created to solve?
SHM: I think it’s for everybody, especially people who love music in some form, either making it or listening to it. Probably somebody who is a little bit younger in demographic. So, we will see what (furniture) turns up in whose room.
IKEA: Building on what the guys have said, we can definitely see that the collection is for everybody; we can see the younger generation is very interested in making music at home and we really want to enable the opportunity to make music. It is also the enjoyment of listening to music, hanging out, playing music and that whole experience that music can have on you, but we have yet to reach that new target group.
5. Are you going to use anything from the collection yourselves?
SHM: Everything. We are using it right now.
6. What are some of your favourites from this launch and why?
SHM: There’s really no answer to that. Everything is our favourite. It’s like you cannot pick your favourite child. All the products are our favourites.
IKEA: We divided the collection into three parts: one for the producer at home, one for people who like to travel and make music and one for more music as a lifestyle. We tried to use three parts of life but all of them are about celebrating the joy of music. For IKEA, this was kind of new, we have done speakers, but this is really about celebrating the joy of making music and leaving it as a lifestyle.
It’s hard to pick a favourite product. I think we made a good assortment of really exciting products, but I think what’s been really interesting on this journey like Friso and the guys (SHM) have been saying, it’s been a true collaboration. One thing that’s been really great from our side is gaining that knowledge and understanding of what you need and how you make music at home.
When we build the products and make the collection, we work very much with democratic design; it’s about making something with a great form, function and quality, but what’s been really great is working together with a low price, really wanting to make affordable solutions to reach out to those young music makers, which has been really fun doing it together. We had a moment along the journey, I’m not sure who said something like, “Are we on the right price? Are we going to hit the right price to sell it in the store?” So, it’s been this back and forth together with the products. It was really great.
7. How did the idea behind the colour choice come around? Why is it all-black?
SHM: It’s strong, it’s a very mature colour but at the same time, it’s very bold. For us, it was an idea that brooded over doing something that felt very united and strong. While we were throwing ideas at IKEA, we decided that this would be the strongest outcome. When we got the collection and saw it all come together, it looked beautiful. It’s a very strong collection and aesthetically, it’s very pleasing.
IKEA: In the beginning, we were talking about what IKEA and Swedish House Mafia stands for and there’s quite some similarity. It’s a strong brand but it keeps things simple. It’s being bold and courageous but not over-the-top and black sort of does that in a very nice way.
8. There were a lot of questions about the record player. What was the idea to have it in the collection? Do you think people are still fans of vinyl records?
SHM: We all share the love of something physical, and growing up around vinyl it’s one of the most beautiful ways to listen and care about music. We wanted to expand that into a form that’s achievable, that anybody can kinda dive into. It was a challenge, technically, to make it work, make it affordable but going back and forth, we figured it out and we’re extremely excited to see it. I just woke up with ten text messages from people asking me if they’re still going to be available when it launches. It’s a big one for us especially the care for physical music, it’s beautiful.
IKEA: The first time we met in Stockholm, it was like getting to know each other and seeing what this collection could be, what were their dreams, and what could be the ultimate thing to do. I think Axwell had said, “Wouldn’t it be nice to have a record player you can gift to a friend? Something that is so simple and accessible that really embodies the sharing and the enjoyment of playing vinyl” and that is something coincidentally, we all do. So, we all got that immediately like that’s something really nice to be able to do.
9. The collection also has quite a lot of remakes of popular products like the IKEA FRAKTA bags or the KALLAX unit. Can you share the idea behind that? How did you reinterpret it in the collection?
SHM: Going back to the first question, we grew up hacking IKEA to make things work and this was a straight-up hack. We love the FRAKTA bags, and we wanted to give it our touch to make it more accessible for our modern living. You can go up to the record store, carry it with you when you travel or whatever you do, for your laptops and headphones and so on. The unit was what it looked like in our bedroom when we were growing up; it was the vinyl storage that we always turned into a vinyl station where we DJ-ed off while we were young.
10. Do you think the OBEGRÄNSAD collection will become the go-to collection for musicians, DJs, and producers in the future? If so, why do you believe that?
SHM: We hope so. We’re just making it accessible to our younger selves, that’s what’s it’s all about. We speak to a lot of creatives all the time, gamers, designers, architects, you name it, this appeals to everyone, it’s not just music-focused. We had that as a goal, as the core, but everyone finds it appealing so it’s exciting to see where it goes. It’ll be nice to see if someone takes our hacks and make their own hacks.
It’ll be nice to see what they do with it. For us, it’s a really nice space to be in and we feel blessed to be able to do this and offer something to our younger selves that couldn’t afford a vinyl player or a vinyl collection or a stand, so it’s great.
11. Which do you prefer: life in the home studio, making new content and getting inspired, or being out, seeing the fans go crazy?
SHM: Being in the studio, making magic and going out to see the fans, that’s the ultimate reward. We have the luxury to do both things, but they all mean equally (to us). It’s a very beautiful thing, both parts play a big role in our lives. You couldn’t do one without the other, you couldn’t just go out and play for your fans without having any music to play, and you couldn’t just be home in the studio because you’d need to go out and play (your music) to get the inspiration, meet fans and create ideas.
12. How are your fans reacting to the new album?
SHM: It’s been amazing. Everything has exceeded expectations. We make music, putting in a lot of time, just expressing ourselves creatively and making music for ourselves, creating stuff that we love and that we’re very proud of. To put it out there in the world, it’s always a scary thing because that’s not the reason why we make music in the first place. It’s been beautiful. Everything from putting out the album to the roll-out of the tour to the current World Tour, it’s been incredible. Every night, we see the fans and spend time with them, and it’s incredible.
13. There has been a rise of music production at home, especially after the pandemic. Is this the right time to launch this kind of collection? Has your way of making music changed over the years? How do these experiences inspire you when designing these products for this particular collection?
SHM: To modernise creativity in general. As we speak, we are sitting in a hotel in Los Angeles with two small speakers, making music. So, you do what you can with your space. Back in the day, the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, people wanted big studios, that’s also very important but today, looking at ourselves and people that we’ve collaborated with, people make music on the way to work, in the subway, on their laptops.
What we’re coming up now with IKEA, I think that’s more than enough for people to make music and I think that’s going to be more drive to have a studio these days. It’s a very expensive thing to rent a room, build soundproof and more. So, I think this is smart, I think this is where we are heading right now. To be home or be somewhere (that is) easy to make music.
IKEA: I think what you’re saying is also about making things accessible, and in function. That something needs to be simple, easy to understand, and that’s pretty much what we had in mind when designing this collection.
14. What are the similarities and differences between music production and the design development process?
SHM: I feel like a lot of creative work regardless of what it is, it’s kind of similar. Everything starts with an idea and then it’s about flushing out and getting to the execution part. So, I think everything, from developing games to making music to designing and creating architecture, has the same steps. Everything starts with a dream or an idea, followed by execution, so I feel like a lot of creative work feels similar. Even when we design shows or we build the tour that we’re on now, or even working on furniture with IKEA and they can use it, the process is the same. It’s nice to be able to do all of it.
IKEA: The cross-over was super nice. The guys, they always design their own light show, so they have so much knowledge when it comes to how you create atmosphere with lights. We have a lot of knowledge at IKEA of how to furnish your home and the combination of that resulted in this collection, with three different lamps, setting the mood for music in your home and that is just amazing about the cross-over collaboration, which we would never get if we were to just work in our silos. That’s one of the reasons we do these collaborations: we can learn and gain knowledge by working with experts who have knowledge that we don’t, especially in this field of making music and listening to music.
15. How was it to collaborate with IKEA and Swedish House Mafia? What are the memorable experiences or the biggest challenge that you had?
SHM: It’s been great! We came up with ideas, situations and products that we would love to see, and IKEA has met everything (our expectations) and worked hand in hand with us as a team. We’ve been able to recreate the vision that we had from the beginning and make the collection what it is today. From our side, it’s been a great collaboration and we’ve made some great friends.
IKEA: I think what’s fun is that the way we work at IKEA, it’s a lot of working together; that’s how we make our product. That’s in our DNA but Swedish House Mafia is also a collaboration of three individuals, and the guys have also done a lot of collaborations on their album, so it’s also very much in their DNA. So, I think it’s really well connected, and we’re all really used to that creative process.
16. When can the fans expect to see the collection in IKEA stores? And is there any chance of collaborating with IKEA again?
SHM: Yeah, of course, we loved collaborating with IKEA. It’s been a great thing. We’ll see what happens; you never know what the future holds.
IKEA: What we’re excited about this collection was that previously we were hiding music at home by our speakers, they usually sort of blend more into the interior, and now we took a completely different approach, making it really center-staged. I really hope that we continue in that line because I make music myself and I think anybody that makes music or loves music, would want their interior to reflect their personality. I hope that we will continue to do more things along those lines.
The 20-piece OBEGRÄNSAD Collection will be available in Malaysia in October 2022. Visit the website for more updates.
Neetashini Kanendran contributed to this article