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IKEAs Could Host Raves and Oversized Art Installations

Brand’s creative director has bold plans for its blue big-box stores

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Earlier this year, retailer IKEA temporarily took over a warehouse in Milan. In the front, it built a vintage shop of IKEA furniture from the 1950s. In the back were huge, multistory sculptures, built primarily from IKEA’s budget products, such as light bulbs and bowls.

Then, at night, IKEA introduced Telekom Electronic Beats to curate music while Swedish lighting designer Anders Heberling staged a light show across the space. What resulted were two full-blown raves — one of which an IKEA spokesperson told Fast Company was shut down by police.

In the aftermath of those events, the business magazine conducted an extensive Q+ A with Marcus Engman, creative director of IKEA parent Ingka Group (Leiden, Netherlands), who says those events served as a prototype to IKEA’s future retail experience. (As reported previously, IKEA is planning a major expansion in the U.S. over the next three years.)

“… This exhibition is an experiment in making ourselves comfortable working at scale,” Engman said. “We have a lot of volume in our stores. But we’re not really taking care of it. It could be more interesting. So I mean, so it’s like an internal experiment. How can we create an environment with really big installations?”

Engman explores that question and others in the Fast Company interview.

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