IKEA collaborates with social entrepreneurs around the world to create hand-crafted collection Hantverk, inspired by traditional crafts and rooted in Scandinavian design.
IKEA, the Swedish retail furniture giant made a major breakthrough in the industry with its flat-pack furniture. A large credit of self-assembled, mass produced, affordable furniture going mainstream goes to IKEA. So words like customised, limited edition don’t really fit in IKEA’s business model, yet social entrepreneurship going the IKEA route is exactly what the market needs.
Social entrepreneurship fills two needs with one deed – it marries commerce with a social cause and this business model holds immense potential in societal transformations. Though social enterprises have been around for a while now, they have always remained in the shadows of commercial retailers or brand dominance and hence have failed in market impressions.
Now, IKEA brings both the above mentioned factors to tie-up with the social goodwill under one umbrella through its latest limited edition collection, HANTVERK.
HANTVERK is a handcrafted collection that celebrates the craftsmanship from 3 different countries. For the collection IKEA collaborated with social enterprises from India, Thailand and Jordan, and with the help of Finnish designer Iina Vuorivirta, IKEA could bring recognition to traditional crafts from remote regions. The design expression is essentially Scandinavian; however, the products emerge from traditional crafts and local materials available in the collaborating regions.
HANTVERK, meaning handicraft in Swedish, comprises of handmade baskets, ceramics, textiles, and more. Each item speaks of the success story of empowering artisans – which significantly reflects a whopping 85% female demographic. The venture opens up opportunities for developing and showcasing skills and offering them in the global market through an established brand like IKEA. Additionally, all materials are locally sourced, natural sustainable materials like banana fibre, handmade paper, ceramic and cotton.
Since past couple of years, IKEA is putting efforts in building long-term partnerships with social entrepreneurs around the world. Since 2013, more than 20,000 artisans get a steady income through collaborative ventures with IKEA. In India for the Hantverk collection, IKEA has joint hands with two organisations, Industree Foundation and Rangsutra.
Industree Foundation, is a Bangalore based non-profit organisation which strives to provide sustainable livelihoods and empowers artisans, while, Rangsutra, bridges the gap between rural artisans and global consumers in order to revive India’s rich craft heritage.
IKEA India’s Communication & Interiors Manager, Mia Olsson sharing her thoughts on this collaboration stated, “The collection has helped us create sustainable livelihoods and provide economic empowerment to the local communities that we operate in. If IKEA can be part of making social business mainstream and sustainable in the long run, it’s fantastic. IKEA actively collaborates with skilled artisans from social entrepreneurs regularly because it not only brings the modern and the traditional together but helps us to create a direct connect with our local customers, who have shown much interest in our Swe-desi (Swedish and Indian) range of products.”
Industree has collaborated with IKEA on several occasions and this time around for HANTVERK, Industree engaged with local artisans to create handwoven baskets made of sustainable banana fibres that were inspired by the traditional Scandinavian birch bark baskets.
Neelam Chhibber, Co-Founder & Managing Trustee at Industree Foundation said, “It’s a great opportunity to work alongside IKEA in creating such beautiful collections. This collaboration has helped our artisans to grow and earn a livelihood for themselves, which makes them financially independent. The best part about HANTVERK is how we got to marry modern Scandinavian design aesthetics with local Indian manufacturing sensibilities.”
So far their collaborations have led to seven collections manufactured by producers in areas like Madurai, Erode and Bangalore and sold in stores in Europe, Japan, and Korea with the participation of over 1500 artisans in the production.
Whereas, artisans at Rangsutra have weaved handmade cushion covers and throws which come with interplay of warm earthy shades of red, blue and white. Talking about this design collaboration IKEA’s in-house designer Iina Vuorivirta stated, “I had sent a sketch to Rangsutra and when I got the prototype back it had two different kinds of lines instead of the one that I had in mind. I actually think the final products look even better because of it”
Speaking about the impact and overall morale boost this venture has established, Sumita Ghose – Founder and Managing Director, Rangsutra, said, “The Hantverk collection enabled the handloom weavers and women artisans to get the much-needed work in their own villages. It was also an encouragement for other artisans who showed increased interest in working at the village centres instead of migrating to the city in search of work.”
IKEA with its stronghold on the retail industry provides these enterprises an open access to a global marketplace which otherwise is a struggle, while creating a stable future and a strong foundation for steady income.
HANTVERK also features products created by Doi Tung DP from Thailand and the Jordan River Foundation from Jordan. The collection is now available at IKEA’s Hyderabad store.
Text By Shweta Salvi