Meet Bea Åkerlund, The Star Stylist Behind Ikea’s Boldest Collaboration Yet
When Ikea announced their latest designer collaboration, you may not have recognised Bea Åkerlund’s name, but you’ve probably seen her work. Costume design and styling for the likes of Beyoncé, Madonna, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry is just one element of what she does – she also does creative direction for films, campaigns and various other projects. Now, Bea is bringing her personal glam-goth style to the furniture retailer. A far cry from the Billy bookcase, the Omedelbar collection is full of over-the-top pieces where fashion meets interiors, from a shoe vase and a crown-shaped bowl to a corset-laced armchair.
This is the first time the Swedish stylist has professionally turned her talents to furniture, however she has experimented with it before. “I designed a giant dollhouse jewellery case for my showroom, I designed my dressing room, and my sofa as well,” Bea explains. “My mind always takes me to places and things that don’t actually exist, so then I just tend to design them so I get exactly what I want.”
The collaboration with Ikea, then, was the perfect opportunity to experiment further. “In my job I always design things for other people, and this was my time to design something for me. The collection is different things like I felt like I needed personally in my life.”
She’s not exaggerating either: “The collection is literally everywhere. My entire home and office is filled with it. I use the hatboxes when I transport my hats, and I use all the clothing racks in my showroom in LA. I have the blanket on right now. I’m always cold, so I bring my own blanket whenever I fly on airplanes. But it takes up a lot of space in my bag, so I thought it would be great if I had one that I could just wear when I walked off the airplane. Each piece is thought out on my own experience – I figured if I need it, other people will too.”
The bold collection will fit easily into Bea’s LA home, which is full of black surfaces and quirky pieces. “Me and my husband love going to flea markets, so we collect antiques from all around the world.” She is excited about the opportunity an Ikea collection gives her to bring unusual objects to a mass market, such as a giant pocket-watch wall clock, or the mesh hand-shaped wall decoration that is Ikea’s first ever 3D-printed product.
“The idea of my collection was for people to take a risk, and maybe buy something they wouldn’t usually. There’s a lip pillow for $12, and you can buy one or you can buy 20, that was the whole point of my campaign. I wanted to create art with my collection and it can be whatever you decide to do with it.”
Although Bea’s personal style is not what you would typically associate with Ikea’s trademark simple designs, she was not as surprised as you might think when the furniture brand approached her. “Well, I’m Swedish, and they’re Swedish, so it sort of made sense to me. I feel that I represent something in our country, I have a message which is to be who you are, and I try and implement that in everything that I do.” The brand got in touch with her after Karin Gustavsson, Ikea’s creative leader, heard Bea on a Swedish radio programme where she talked about her life.
Gustavsson worked closely with Bea on the collection for over three years. “I had about 200 ideas, and then we narrowed them down. There’s a lot of things you have to think about like packing and how Ikea ship products. I feel like there’s a nice marriage between me and Ikea, you can really see the collaboration.” It also shows signs that the retailer is becoming more adventurous in its design collaborations, as a partnership with streetwear label Off-White is also reportedly on the way.
Bea’s husband, director Jonas Åkerlund, shot the promotional images and films for the collection, which was a new experience for the couple. “I’m usually behind the camera, but I sort of knew what he wanted from being on set with him so many times. It was a really fun thing. He’s a brilliant filmmaker, so I knew I would get something great out of it.”
Now that Bea has designed furniture, she is keen to do more. “I had a really good time designing these pieces, so I still have another 170 ideas to produce!”
The Omedelbar collection is in Ikea stores now, while stocks last.