Ikea goes glam rock with Zandra Rhodes collaboration

It may be difficult to unpack, but shoppers could soon find the no-frills minimalism of Ikea has been lent a little glam-rock flair thanks to one of Britain’s most famous fashion designers.

Dame Zandra Rhodes has announced she had designed a line of homeware products for the Swedish furniture chain, a decision she made after painting her Billy bookcase “an iridescent Frida Kahlo blue”.

Rhodes, who has previously worked with rock stars Marc Bolan and Freddie Mercury, as well as Diana, Princess of Wales, is to release a 26-piece collection in her signature “loud and proud” colour palette next week – featuring vases, rugs and lampshades.

The Karismatisk collection has been in the works for more than two years, and Rhodes was influenced by our growing attachment to domestic life throughout the Covid pandemic.

“Lockdown made us realise how important our homes are,” she said. “We spent time in our houses getting to know each other instead of rushing off to work,” she says, “it made it all the more important to do a collection like this.”

The so-called princess of punk, born to a lorry driver and a dressmaker, said she did not hesitate to work with Ikea as it could democratise her designs and manufacture them at an affordable price.

“As a designer, it’s wonderful if you can create something that will reach people,” she said. “When I make my clothes, they’re all very limited and one of a kind. It’s the way I’ve felt I could make my living but it’s wonderful when you do something that can get out to more people, I can’t wait to see people walking around with one of the pink bags.”

Describing her own experiences with Ikea, she said: “I’ve got the Billy bookcase that I painted an iridescent Frida Kahlo blue, and I’ve got other Ikea shelves that are for my records, which I painted yellow. I just thought, ‘I’d love to work for Ikea’.”

With the fashion industry going through uncertain times, more designers are broadening their design palette and pivoting to interiors.

JW Anderson, Henry Holland and Saint Laurent’s Anthony Vaccarello have experienced “the Laura Ashley effect”, producing ranges of ceramics with varying degrees of commitment.

Meanwhile, Ashish and The Elder Statesman have made homeware capsules for MatchesFashion, which recently reported a 30% increase in sales of homeware items, adding that tablewear was its fastest growing category.

“No matter how frou-frou, fashion is a business, underpinned by the bottom line and profit margins,” Prof Alison Goodrum at Norwich University of the Arts said. “It makes sense for fashion designers to adapt their offer and review their product portfolio, particularly when it comes to riding a storm as big as the pandemic, which has altered fashion behaviours immeasurably.”

With Rhodes’s collection launching on 1 September, Goodrum thinks the focus on interiors marks a change within the industry. “What’s interesting is that fashion is choosing to align itself with domestic culture and the home in its time of crisis, a sort of metaphorical seeking of shelter, if you will,” she said.

“This reflects a greater societal trend in which our personal and domestic space is receiving more attention and investment than ever as a reflection of our personality or who we aspire to be. Consumer spending on homeware products has accelerated and it’s a growing market, so it may well be a smart move to get into interiors.”