There are many famous designer bags in the world, like the Birkin or the Kelly, but Virgil Abloh, the Off-White designer and Kanye West’s former creative director, is putting his spin on a very different classic: IKEA’s FRAKTA bag. Yes, that plasticy blue one with two sets the IKEA-branded handles that are inexplicably always too long or too short for them to actually use. Yes, that same one you used to haul your laundry around or maybe carry home six months worth of light bulbs and a box of cinnamon rolls for the car ride home. Yes the one that is already in the midst of a fashion moment thanks to an unlikely tribute from Balenciaga and another collaboration with French boutique Colette. That bag.
“IKEA provides a landscape — fertile soil for new ideas and concepts,” Abloh said about his collaboration with the particle board furniture maker. “My duty then, is to provide something provocative. Given how tremendous this opportunity is, I’m not content to make another chair.”
Abloh debuted his take on the bag during IKEA’s presentation at Democratic Design Days in Sweden. It’s in the same shape as the classic FRAKTA, but made out of cardboard and with the word “sculpture” emblazoned on the side in all capital letters. At least one of his two prototypes is held together with red tape set off against yellow straps, which isn’t keeping in the classic IKEA blue and yellow, but is still quite fetching. Abloh posted his creative process on Off-White’s Instagram account and IKEA posted a picture of Abloh making the bag with a very concerned-looking supervisor either in awe or dismay of his creation.
Abloh's collaboration with IKEA will however not end with jus the bag, he'll also designing cost-conscious furniture for the creatively minded that will be on sale at the retail giant in the near future (something that Kanye West himself was once rumored to do). He is, of course, focused on the young people who are obsessed with Abloh’s specific version of street-style cool. “We’re looking at that first phase of adult life, when you start making purchases for your space,” he said on stage about this partnership. “Largely people grow up in their parents’ environment. They’ve never had to consider furniture. Then when they’re off on their own and have their own aesthetic, what are their first purchases? I’m interested in thinking about how those purchases are informed.”
Though he's made his name in fashion, Abloh is no stranger to collaborations (past cohorts include Moncler, Levi’s, VLONE, and the artist Brendan Fowler) nor to furniture design. The designer, who actually was trained as an architect, debuted his first non-IKEA furniture line last year at Art Basel Miami Beach.
It’s still unclear if or when his bag redesign will be available from IKEA, but surely it will be a hotly coveted item if it ever made it into production. That would mean the check out lines at IKEA will be even longer, but at least all of Abloh’s acolytes will be a lot better dressed.
In the meantime, yuo can watch the full Abloh presentation from IKEA's Dmeocratic Design Days here:
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