I Went to IKEA HQ and Tested All Its New Products—These Are the Best

Updated 07/11/17
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We often look to celebrities and cool boutique designers to predict trends, but when it comes to which furniture will actually make their way into your home, few outlets hold the same power as IKEA. The ubiquitous Swedish giant is behind that sofa you bought for your first apartment, the photo frames adorning your friend's walls, and the classic white bookshelf found in almost everyone's home—IKEA's reach is so extensive that the retailer says a trend is in, it's in. 

So when IKEA invited me to Älmhult, Sweden, for a two-day total immersion in the brand and its products, I had mild heart failure. IKEA's annual Democratic Design Days event is like Disneyland for décor fans. We were ushered into trend workshops with MIT sleep experts; did "speed dating" interviews with product developers; quizzed designers; and—my favorite part—sat on, prodded, and tested every new product we could get our hands on. 

After seeing all the new product collaborations IRL and chatting with the designers who will shape the next gen of IKEA products, it's clear that a few key trends have emerged. We're calling it: These are the only home trends you need to know, according to IKEA. 

Vases Will Be the #1 Home Accessory

Courtesy of IKEA

One item stood out during my time at IKEA HQ and while traveling throughout greater Sweden and Denmark: vases. The glass and ceramic votives are in every cool Airbnb and restaurant, and will be a major item of focus in IKEA's upcoming collections.

Sure, they might seem like a pretty ordinary and not entirely necessary accessory, but the Scandinavians are masters of making basic home items into sculptures. In the coming months, expect IKEA to release organic-shaped glass vases in multiple shades and sizes. Our top picks include a blush-colored cylindrical vase with a wood band around the center and matte bulb vases in pastel hues. 

Everyone Will Own Hay's New Tray Table

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Yipperlig, IKEA's collaboration with Danish design company Hay, stole the show. For the first time ever, we were able to see most of the items in the 70-piece collection IRL and test them out. These are the pieces we're buying in fall before they sell out:

  • The tray table. Hay's signature tray table is the most notable item in the collection; expect to see it in every cool home this year. The black powder-coated metal top and blond wood legs make it the perfect piece to buy if you want to add a touch of Scandi cool to your home. 
  • The egg sofa. IKEA design head Marcus Engman likened this sofa to an egg because it has a hard plastic "shell" and soft upholstered interior. The stormy gray sofa is designed so that it fits into a small living room but feels roomy when you're sitting on it. Seriously smart design. 
  • The half-moon mirrors. Hay and IKEA has designed a set of small wall mirrors in the shape of half moons. They're available in rust, moss green, and black, and are the perfect steal if you want to upgrade your blank walls. 

Dusty Pink Will Be the Next It Color

We hear you: Pantone put pink in the limelight when it named Rose Quartz its color of the year in 2016. After wandering through IKEA's catalog studios, it's clear that pink will continue its reign into 2018, but it'll be a dustier, dirtier version (sorry, millennial pink). 

Expect to see (and want!) IKEA's curved pink dining chairs, textured rug, and (my personal favorite) the dusty blush-and-wood accent chair. Launch the video above for a sneak peek of one of the scenes in IKEA's upcoming catalog. Cool, right?

Flex Living Will Be Big

Courtesy of IKEA

When I sat down with Karin Gustavsson, creative leader at IKEA, she mentioned that there's a noticeable shift toward flexible living. "People are living and using their homes differently now. In places like Russia, we see people using their living rooms as bedrooms and wanting furniture that adapts to their lifestyle," she tells MyDomaine. 

So what does this mean for you? Your furniture will work harder to provide service. Coffee tables will double as storage, daybeds will become sofas, and multipurpose items will be the new norm. It's a big win for anyone trying to decorate a small space. 

The Future of Furniture Is Modular

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Speaking of flex living, Tom Dixon's collaboration with IKEA offers exactly that: a platform to hack and change as often as your needs do. The basic metal frame can be styled with cushions, a clip-on table, and light to act as reading nook, or covered with a luxe linen slip from Bemz to become a bed—the options are limitless. 

"The frame starts off as a bed and can become anything you want," he told MyDomaine. "This can become a couch by [customizing it with] bits that you add on. If we're lucky, other third parties will start 'hacking' it." Dixon is also creating high-end accessories that will be sold in his own stores to offer a luxe way to customize the platform. Think marble benchtops and brass add-ons. 

Handmade Items Will Trump Mass Made

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There's a shift away from products that look mass produced and identical—people desire uniqueness. This might seem like a big challenge for IKEA, which is known for creating flat-pack wares en masse, but the brand has leaned into the trend with Industriell, its upcoming collaboration with Dutch designer Piet Hein Eek. 

"It's all about brining a sense of imperfect uniqueness to what's serial produced," says Hein Eek. "It turned out that IKEA had thought about the same thing for ages—How to make objects feel more human and more personal while still having an industrial production process."

The line features beautiful woven chairs made from scrap wood and furniture crafted from natural materials. You can also expect a variety of home accessories made with artisans in India, Romania, and Northern Thailand. Our favorites include blue woven dish clothes and a sculptural wood mortar and pestle. 

IKEA PS 2017 $30
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IKEA Formlig Vase $10
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IKEA Sannolik Vase $5
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IKEA Stockholm 2017 $229
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IKEA Jassa $20
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IKEA Sandhaug Nightstand $70
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Curious to see what products are in the pipeline? Here are some photographs we took on the ground at IKEA HQ:

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One of the scenes from IKEA's forthcoming catalog. 

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The egg-like sofa that's part of Hay's IKEA collaboration. 

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Trestle-style blonde wood stools, part of the Hay collection. 

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A few of the bud vases you can expect to find in IKEA later this year. 

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Stormy charcoal and forest green hues dominated glassware. 

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Candlesticks in Nordic colors, designed by Hay. 

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White and pale wood was popular at IKEA HQ. 

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Outdoor furniture is getting a stylish makeover.

Which items are you most excited about from IKEA's upcoming collaborations?

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