Portrait of Tammy Strobel


Can I be perfectly honest with you? Before the launch of Ikea’s Markerad collection, I had never heard of Virgil Abloh. 

I know — I can practically hear the outraged gasps of Off-White fans everywhere. 

So when Ikea announced its collaboration with Virgil Abloh, I made it a point to check out the luxury fashion label. 

It’s easy to see why Abloh’s style has captured the hearts of millenials all over the world. With its signature quote marks, four-way arrows and industrial design, the brand creates a visual disruption that calls attention to the ordinary and rethinks what we take for granted. It’s edgy, iconic, and definitely far from #basic.

In the Markerad collection, we see pretty much the same brand identity: the startlingly bright orange labels sewn on gray pillowcases, the chair with a doorstop on one leg, and let’s not forget the famous Ikea receipt rug, complete with barcode and torn edges. The collection is not designed to blend seamlessly into one’s home. It’s meant to jar the eye, to get you to do a double take. It makes a statement.

The question is: can such fashion statements translate easily into the realm of interior design? While you might don a graphic T-shirt with quote marks without batting an eyelid, would you just as nonchalantly lay down a rug that says “wet grass”?

Perhaps the issue here lies with the very different nature of the two design industries: fashion is expressive, fast-moving, ephemeral; interior trends move at a much slower pace by comparison. You can put on an outfit according to your mood and swap it out the next day for something else, but you’ll be sitting on the same sofa year after year. It would make sense, therefore, to invest in a sofa that you really like and looks good with the rest of the decor.

That’s not to say being on trend is a bad thing. It simply merits careful thought about whether something is truly you, and whether it will fit well into the narrative of your home. This is especially true for space-scarce Singapore where the apartments are getting ever smaller, forcing us to think long and hard about how to furnish the limited space. But if a potential piece of furniture ticks all the boxes and is something you truly love, we say go ahead and make the investment – at any rate, that giant Ikea receipt on the floor is bound to be a talking point.