I had the pleasure recently of travelling to IKEA’s hometown base Älmhult for their annual Democratic By Design event, I got the chance to interview Sarah Fager one of their head designers who was working on the Adidas collab and get the low down.
How did the collaboration with Adidas come about?
It started with a curiosity around well-being, to understand what it means for different people and especially what impact exercising, sleeping and eating can have in your everyday life. At IKEA we are experts in life at home and Adidas are experts in fitness and sports, which makes us a perfect match for exploring this field. We both share similar vision and values, helping people to have better lives. By joining forces we can get knowledge from each other and reach out to even more people.
It is a really heart-warming project, because when people exercise and move, it makes them feel good about themselves which makes them both happier and healthier. I can only relate to myself and the impact it has on my life and my wellbeing. So I really feel the importance of this collaboration and all the great opportunities the outcome can offer to people. Since our target groups have different wellness needs, together with adidas we can grasp a wider approach. I must say, I think Adidas also have a great sense of style J
What was the most interesting thing about the home visits?
At IKEA, we always start our design and development process with making sure we understand the needs of the many people. Often that means going to homes to see how people’s lives are. Home visits are a great method to get first-hand experience and to see and hear for yourself what the big challenges are. No report can ever replace that. Ideas are born in those moments when you are in a room with someone who opens up and shares about their lives and habits.
Every single home visit I have done stays with me and is very helpful for me as a designer because it helps me understand how people live around the world. For us designers in this collaboration, the key was to get a common starting point and shared experiences and references. We at IKEA know that activities in the home are often common across the world – we all sleep and eat – but our preferences and how we do it differ between regions and cultures. So, we wanted experiences from different parts of the world. This makes sense as we are both global brands. But the focus throughout has been on big cities as small space is a common challenge for almost everyone, regardless of what you do at home. We were curious around the specific combination of challenges around health, training and limited spaces.
What is most exciting for you about the possibilities for design on this collaboration?
I’m a senior in-house designer at IKEA and my daily work is to design products in a democratic way so that as many people as possible can afford them, without compromising on form, function, quality or sustainability. I am a mother of three daughters which makes me feel very connected to the topic. To be part of a project that would help people get happier, healthier and live better lives is a dream project for me!
What’s your favourite thing about working with IKEA?
I love my job, because with our culture and values I can be both passionate and driven in a friendly environment. When you get to work, everyone is greeted the same way and we have a very open and transparent environment. Everyone has the right to have an opinion when it comes to design, and I like that, it includes people. I think a lot about how fortunate I am of being a designer in a company that make such a positive impact on people’s lives, all around the world.
What keeps you inspired?
My aim as a designer is to create smart solutions for everyday items. Here at IKEA, that dream becomes reality. Designing at IKEA encourages me to stretch my mind and to sharpen my creative edge. Inspiration is supported by the outstanding source of talented individuals in our office in Älmhult, Sweden, and other IKEA colleagues and suppliers throughout the possess. For me, fulfilment as a designer comes when there is a balance between good functionality, production and aesthetics. That makes a good and sustainable product.
Sarah Fager, IKEA designer and Michael Bui, Senior Design Director adidas
Words by Arrnott Olssen