This summer Liljevalchs tells the story of IKEA.
At a first glance, you might wonder how the product of a established company with a final consumer porpuse can delved into art or well, where is the divisor line between marketing event and an art exhibition. What the museum, directed by Mårten Castenfors, and exhibition curator Staffan Bengtsson wish to relate is a story about IKEA - the phenomenon, its innovations and designers – a story about the birth of the Folkhemmet. A generous presentation of the company that has furnished Sweden after the Second World War.
During the whole exhibition is an extensive programme of seminars attached to discuss issues such as original/copy, aesthetic guidelines, and aspects of the environment and production.
The exhibition also works out as a recreation of memories of various stages within the average Swedish life. The story of Ingvar Kamprad is a fairy-tale of how a boy from the countryside of Sweden (Småland) became one of the richest men in the world. Älmtaryd is his hometown and the world is witness of this successful lifestyle à la Älmtaryd.
Liljevalchs’ pleasurable plunge into the subject takes the form of a reflection of the development of modern society – from the emergence of the Swedish Folkhemmet to our time and to the globalized future. The exhibition provides a sky-high recognition factor as well as surprising gems from IKEA’s production.
IKEA is selling a piece of Sweden every where. Its logo of blue and yellow is globally well recognized releasing the swedish culture a bit closer to almost every corner of the world. No other major corporation has been associated with “Swedishness” to the same extent as IKEA. One of the main concepts of IKEA is to cover that felling for the new generation within the rapture of their heritage in favor of new cheap solutions. The company has slogged away to realize its founder´s project: to be for the many people by the means of, as they say, a democratic design. It´s all about a pragmatical way of the Swedish establishment where anyone can get a good living status no matter if you lack economic muscle. That´s what encloses the meaning of Folkhemmet. Although IKEA is in its origin Scandinavian modernism, the approach of the company to the mainstream has been constantly keynote. Probably the most popular slogan campaign was on the launch of IKEA in the U.S “ America´s a big country, someone´s got to furnish it!”. In the own words of Lennart Ekmark, former Director of Design at IKEA –“We have became too unfocused and too abroad. (..) but we no longer lived up to the Scandinavian style. We have spend too much time at fairs on the continent and looked too much at our competitors”. The company actually twists through a re-focus on design with Swedish and international designers from outside of IKEA and an energetic and insistent design entrepreneur.
A floor down in Liljevalchs konsthall we find the Vintage Shop – Liljevalchs’ second-hand market for IKEA stuff and smaller furniture. Here visitors can hand in their old IKEA things and small-scale furniture.
The cost of admission is 69 SEK. And for another 69 SEK visitors can purchase the browser-friendly exhibition catalogue which easily fits in the pocket of your summer shorts.
Liljevalchs konsthall keeps its extended opening hours during the summer. Open Tuesday – Sunday: 11.00 – 17.00, and Tuesday and Thursday: 11.00 - 20.00. Monday closed.
50 YEARS OF IKEA
Date: June 13th - August 30th 2009
Place: Liljevalchs Konsthall Meseum
Address: Djurgårdsvägen 60, Stockholm
Text and photos: Victor Moreno