Ikea is set to open its first major museum in Sweden this month, which will tell the company’s story of transformation from initial concept to worldwide brand.
The museum will be based in Älmhult, the town in which the first ever Ikea store was built in 1958.
“Inserting a story into the building”
A roster of design teams has worked on the project. Ralph Appelbaum Associates worked with Ikea’s in-house creative team to create the narrative and interior design of the permanent exhibition spaces, and Swedish consultancy From Us With Love, created the interior design for the temporary exhibition space. The museum also includes a restaurant and shop, designed by Ikea’s in-house team.
Architect Wilkinson Eyre created the architectural masterplan for the project, alongside Swedish architect Uulas Arkitekter.
Philip Hughes, creative director for the Ikea museum project at Ralph Appelbaum Associates, says that the designers worked with the architects to “insert a story into the building so that it was told in a logical and interesting way”.
Split into permanent and temporary exhibition spaces
Encompassing four floors and 7000m2, the space will be split into a temporary exhibition on the basement and ground floors, and a permanent exhibition on the first and second floors.
The permanent space is divided into three areas: “Our Roots”, “Our Story” and “Your Story”. Running chronologically, Ikea’s story will snake upwards across the two floors. “Our Roots” will look at the brand’s conception as a small company, founded by Ingvar Kamprad in 1943, who used to hand-deliver products to customers on a milk cart, and at design figures from the 19th century which influenced the store and embodied Swedish design values such as “hard work, resourcefulness and humbleness”, says Hughes.
“Our Story” will then look at the development of the brand in the 1950s as a furniture company, starting with its first store opening in 1958, with insights into how customers shopped in that era. Exhibits include early-range furniture, images and 3D models of the first store, and it will showcase the brand’s history through the decades to the 1990s.
“Your Story” shows people’s personal experiences with Ikea, with iconic items showcased such as Ikea’s BILLY bookcase and KLIPPAN sofas. Small areas are devoted to “iconic” Ikea designed products, says Hughes, such as the store’s blue carrier bag. These bespoke areas allow visitors to “peer into the world of Ikea, and discover things”, says Hughes. The permanent exhibition space ends with a film, which aims to inspire viewers to “make their lives more exciting, interesting and beautiful” through furniture, Hughes adds.
Ikea is “often changing”
The temporary space will change and will open with an exhibition looking at kitchenware and furniture, and will look at the future of homeware. Hughes says: “Ikea is very keen to keep changing the offer of the museum and keep it updatable to bring in new audiences over time.”
This idea links in with the design of the permanent museum space, adds Hughes. “We tried to use a simple, pared back system which is easily changed, because Ikea itself is changing often,” he says. The walls of the space are “modular”, he says, with pin-boards where graphics and products can be placed and hung.
Opens on 30 June
This is the first major museum space from the furniture brand, and replaces a much smaller 800m2 exhibition space in Älmhult devoted to Ikea called “Through the Ages”. “It was really modest, and people would not have known it was there,” says Hughes. “This museum is about wanting to share the company’s story – to the public, and also those who work for Ikea, who may not already know it.”
The Ikea museum will open at Ikeagatan 5, Älmhult, Sweden on 30 June. Ikea has not said whether there are currently plans to build any more museums worldwide. Read more about the new museum here.
All photos © Inter IKEA Systems B.V. 2016.