IKEA Viktigt collection

Celebrating craft and natural materials, IKEA’s new 'Viktigt' collection is on our wish list…

BY SOPHIE DAVIES

We’ve long been fans of Ingegerd Råman, the renowned Swedish glassware and ceramics designer known for her minimal aesthetic. So imagine our delight at this April’s Milan Furniture Fair, when we discovered Råman had collaborated with IKEA to create ‘Viktigt’, a limited edition collection for the home, including understated furniture, lighting, storage and tableware.

ABOVE TOP: Ingegerd Råman with her subtle 'Viktigt' range for IKEA
ABOVE: Compact, light 'Viktigt' furniture includes a bamboo and woven paper-cord chair, £45; easy chair, £95, with woven paper-cord seat and backrest; and natural fibre sofa, £145, and armchair, £95

Launched in a verdant Tortona roof terrace apartment, ‘Viktigt’ (which means ‘Important’ in Swedish) celebrates craft and the handmade, with tactile, simple pieces created from rattan, seagrass, water hyacinth and bamboo. The range also features subtle glass and stoneware pieces, including a water carafe, jugs, bowls and plates, as well as a compact sofa, chairs and stools, pendant lamps, planters, rugs and baskets.

Råman worked with IKEA designers Nike Karlsson and Wiebke Braasch, and drew on the skills of artisan craftspeople in Poland, Indonesia and Vietnam. ‘The collection is about craft. It’s a project between the craftsmen and the designer. It has lots of energy and, for me, it represents love.’ Harnessing craft techniques from mouth-blown glass to hand-woven rattan, many pieces are unique, breaking away from Ikea’s usual sleek standardisation.

ABOVE: Renewable chic: 'Viktigt' water hyacinth hanging planter (set of two), £18; bamboo dish, available in two sizes, £9 and £12; and bamboo pendant lamp shade, also in two sizes, £20 and £30

Less is more in Råman’s book, and the collection is defined by its poetic but pared back functionality. ‘I take away, then take away some more,’ she says. Her glass jugs, for instance, are streamlined, with sculptural spouts but no handles. ‘Handles are simply non-essential.’ Pieces are designed to be ergonomic, but also to look good when on display. ‘When you’re not using the serving plates they are as beautiful just stacked together,’ says Råman.  Her palette is equally restrained, with signature clear, white and tricky-to-create black glass (the latter produced with help from expert European craftsmen).`

Always aware of touch and feel, she’s also passionate about everyday rituals. ‘Just pouring fresh water into a clear glass is in fact extraordinarily spectacular. The love of food is the basis of my interest in usable things – objects you use every day. For me every day is equally important,’ she says – so forget saving that gorgeous tableware ‘for best’!

ABOVE: Tactile 'Viktigt' tableware, including glazed black stoneware serving plates, £6.50 for a set of four, £13.25 for larger set of three; glass carafe with glass, £9.75; white serving plates, as before; clear glass jug, £6.25, bowl, £11.25 for a set of two, and bowl, £9.50 for two-pack, carafe, as before; renewable water hyacinth basket, in two sizes, £15 and £19

Some of the challenges of the natural materials proved to be an inspiration, as with the water hyacinth storage baskets. ‘I found the heavy brown fibre difficult to work with. However, resistance can be an advantage,’ recalls Råman. ‘The result was two large, patterned baskets in black and light brown, which became my favourites.’ Råman also encourages users to create patterns across various pieces, such as the reversible, black-striped seagrass rugs, which can be used in diverse combinations. ‘It’s a rhythm I’ve tried to capture.’

ABOVE: 'Viktigt's covetable craft pieces span black and clear glass; renewable seagrass flatwoven rug, £25

IKEA has just launched a book about the life and work of Ingegerd Råman, and an exhibition of her work is on show at Stockholm's Nationalmuseum this summer. ‘Viktigt’ continues the trend for quiet, low-key, natural craft-led pieces, embraced by designer Ilse Crawford in IKEA’s earlier ‘Sinnerlig’ collection, which we flagged up in our Spotlight section in May 2015. Think the opposite of built-in obsolescence. ‘I want to make objects that can live a long time without feeling out of date,’ says Råman. Now that is important…
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Ikea’s ‘Viktigt’ collection launched in May 2016 and will be in global stores for a limited run of around three months. Exhibition 'Ingegerd Råman' is at Sweden's Nationalmuseum until 14 August 2016 at Kulturhuset Stadsteatern, Sergels Torg, Stockholm, before transferring to Vandalorum art museum, Skulpturvågen 2, Vårnamo from 3 September to 27 November 2016