The Dawn of the IKEA Mafia - by Aron Solomon - @IKEA @swedishousemfia


The Dawn of the IKEA Mafia - by Aron Solomon

What’s more Swedish than Swedish House Mafia?

Correct. The answer is “IKEA.”

Even if you were thinking “Swedish meatballs,” it’s still a nanosecond until your mind takes you to IKEA. And as someone who has lived in Stockholm, I can assure you that just as many Swedes as you would expect have IKEA in their homes. It is, in every way, a part of the culture.

So news that these two great Swedish brands decided to work together was met with surprise because of how different they are, but also an openness and curiosity about what these brands could collaboratively create.

The reason brands from entirely different verticals collaborate (home furniture and electronic music is a perfect example) is because the brands think that together they can propel people to see them in new ways. Some people who would have never considered spending money with either brand now will. That’s not to say that some people who listen to Swedish House Mafia don’t already shop at IKEA (they do) or that some IKEA shoppers don’t listen to Swedish House Mafia (they do), but this cross-pollination of these brands opens up new eyes and ears and wallets.

What IKEA hopes we will first buy from this collaboration is a re-designed iconic bag known as FRAKTA.

Here’s the much-loved original: 

And here’s the Swedish House Mafia collaboration: 

I see the allure of both bags. I’ve always loved the original FRAKTA and own an embarrassing number of these remarkably durable bags for shopping, carrying our skates and snowshoes, organizing things in the trunk of the car, and so on.

What I particularly love about this initial collaboration is that the bag retains its original character. This bag, first introduced to help people shop when they are physically in IKEA stores, has become an iconic design, love it or hate it, and there are certainly people who fall into both camps. This Swedish House Mafia collaboration with IKEA really does breathe new design life into a timeless bag. It has to leave fans of both the musical group and the furniture giant excited about future collaborations.

Yet some collaborations that start well don’t always and well. Is there any danger that bringing brands together in collaborations such as this has any legal impact on either brand? Attorney Jonathan Marshall observes that:

“In any collaboration between brands the scope has to be clearly defined. From a legal perspective, the worst-case scenario is that both brands aren’t completely aligned on what the collaboration means. If it’s a one-time thing and one of the parties thinks they can leverage or even reference the collaboration in ways not reflected in the agreement, there may be problems.”

I’d love to see both IKEA and Swedish House Mafia test both the legal and practical elasticity of this collaboration. Problems that arise from disparate brands working together are simply the other side of the coin from beautiful creative collisions. 

So while this is “just” a re-imagined bag, what else could collaborations such as this become? There are already plans to extend Swedish House Mafia’s imprint on more IKEA products, such as this record player, as part of the OBEGRΓ„NSAD collection. Ultimately, what mark could IKEA leave on the work of a music group? It’s one thing for music creatives to put their imprint on a major brand’s physical product but can it work well in reverse?

In other words, how can Swedish House Mafia infuse a little IKEA into their work to capture a larger audience without sacrificing theirs? That has been the exact equation for IKEA with these new bags and should be what Swedish House Mafia is thinking about for the rest of the year and beyond.

There’s no easy answer as to where these collaborations should begin and end, which is part of why they excite the fans of both of these brands. Creatives naturally fear that constantly washed-away line in the sand where their work is seen by their core audience as having become too commercial. But this is where things can get really exciting for brands willing to play on what used to be seen as the dark side.

Any music creatives afraid of testing these limits wouldn’t have collaborated with IKEA in the first place. So where this collaboration ultimately goes, and what impact both Swedish House Mafia and IKEA can have on each other’s creative direction, remains an exciting unknown.

Post a Comment