IKEA launches social entrepreneur collection Annanstans in India

IKEA, the Swedish home furnishing company, has unveiled a ‘handcrafted and limited collection’ named Annanstans – which, in Swedish, means ‘elsewhere’. The name hints at the enigmatic feelings behind this collection as well as the far-flung collaborations that brought it alive. This is a collaborative effort between IKEA product developers, Swedish multi-disciplinary designer Martin Bergstrom and artisans from four different social enterprises in India, Romania and Thailand. Each member of this international team contributed with their own ideas, skills and experience to create a distinctive collection.

Made along with two Indian social entrepreneurs – Rangsutra and Industree – using an artisanal approach, this partnership with social enterprises gives IKEA customers the opportunity to own out-of-the-ordinary designer pieces that are both individual and meaningful. The designer, Bergstrom, has applied his prints to three sizes of cushion covers, two scarves, a kaftan, a tote-style cotton bag, two handmade boxes – they all speak the same design language. To round off this eclectic collection, Annanstans also features handwoven baskets in banana fibre.

Bergström began all his prints with hand-drawn sketches, inspired by forms in nature. Before production, the sketches became digital artwork. Digital printing transferred the Annanstans prints to the textiles. This consumes much less water than other methods, so the design statement is also an environmental one. Artisans from Rangsutra social enterprise decorated the Annanstans cushion covers with traditional Indian embroidery. Their handiwork adds a unique and personal contrast to the striking contemporary prints.

The dried stem of the banana plant, stripped into individual fibres, is an attractive raw material for handwoven products such as Annanstans baskets. This renewable resource, a by-product of banana farming, is one of the strongest natural fibres.

At Industree in India, handwoven natural fibres are a speciality. But rather than their usual neatness and precision, Bergstrom wanted an organic and haphazard look that would showcase the beautiful, natural material. Industree developed and used a novel technique to achieve the desired ‘imperfect’ yet durable effect.

The artisans work for one of four social enterprises that are long-term IKEA partners. In Industree and Rangsutra in India, Dol Tung in Thailand and Mesteshukar Butiq in Romania – all helped to create social change for marginalised communities, as well as to support traditional handicrafts.

Annanstans collection stands out for its collaborative, socially-minded values as well as for the quality of its design and hand-finishing.

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