Ikea’s finest capsule collections and collaborations from ‘95 to the present day

The Swedish brand excels in exploring limited editions, continually evolving over the years through collaborations in art, fashion, and music.

It is 1978. Ikea was not the furniture giant we know today yet, but it had already become an entrepreneurial icon in terms of production and image. In that year, it launched its first collection curated by external designers from the Swedish collective 10-gruppen. This basically marked the brand’s first capsule collection ­– a term popularized by the fashion industry to denote limited-edition releases. In the years to come, and particularly starting from 1995 with the introduction of the first PS collection, Ikea repeatedly used the expedient of small collections as a ground for experimentation and promotional showcase. These initiatives led to the creation of product lines that overcame the degree zero to which the company catalog had often confined them and turned them into cult objects at best, or less memorable endeavors at worst. Nevertheless, each endeavor served as a valuable lesson for the brand – to borrow marketing jargon – and a promotional move bound to capture the attention of professionals, the media, and to some extent the general public.

IKEA's participation in the Fuori Salone in Milan in 1995

The concept of the capsule collection is often attributed to the 2004 collaboration between Karl Lagerfeld and H&M. However, some sharp observers argue that its origins can be traced back to Elsa Schiaparelli's Constellation Wardrobe collection launched in 1946, amidst postwar reconstruction efforts, focusing on travel clothes and ready-to-wear. Regardless of when exactly they started, capsule collections have primarily been embraced by the fashion industry as a “win-win” strategy. By working within a defined and somewhat “off-topic” inspiration, brands can break free from their established identities, experimenting with different solutions and communication styles. This narrative specificity is ideal for fast-paced promotions, attracting both media attention and consumer interest. Collaborations further enhance visibility, creating a dual impact that amplifies the resonance of the products.

“We are always curious and open to new ways of doing things to help us reach more of the many people, in a world that changes quickly”, states Emma Jones, Range Identity Manager of IKEA Sweden. “That’s why we started to collaborate from the beginning: to work with people who open our eyes, ask questions we hadn’t thought of and force us to move forwards. Learning new things from outside talent and companies that can add dimensions to our vision.”

Daniel Arsham clock from the 2021 Ikea Art Event collection

Over time, IKEA’s capsule collections consistently surpassed our brands’ expectations, often by offering unexpected reinterpretations of the chain’s classic designs. This has led to a somewhat paradoxical phenomenon: while originally inspired by the seasonality of fast fashion, capsule objects have established themselves as long-lasting items, becoming the new classic pieces thanks to their immediate recognizability and success. Their popularity extends to small collectors, who are willing to pay significant sums for iconic items – such as 6,000 euros for the Keep Off doormat by Virgil Abloh, despite the absence of confirmed serial numbers for each product.

In the gallery, a list of IKEA’s most iconic capsule collections from 1995 to the present day.

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