IKEA’s Head of Design Starts His Own Design Consultancy

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IKEA’s Head of Design Starts His Own Design Consultancy

IKEA’s head of design for the past six years, Marcus Engman, has been credited with giving the brand a major design jolt. September last year, he left the company to set up his own consultancy.

Martin Engman’s history with the company runs deeper than his years as head of design since 2012. Born in 1966 and raised in Älmhult, Sweden – where the multinational company was founded – Engman spent his high school breaks back in the 1980s working at an IKEA store.

IKEA’s Head of Design Starts His Own Design Consultancy
Virgil Abloh holding an IKEA chair

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Design has always been important to IKEA
Design has always been in the forefront at IKEA. Some of the first employees founder Ingvar Kamprad brought to the company were actually designers. As head of design, Engman has been responsible for overhauling the Swedish flat-pack giant, moving it away from its reputation of “doing cheap stuff”.

“Every day we challenge the status quo and the boundaries of what is possible. I also build a strong network of creatives outside IKEA because there’s a lot we don’t know and want to learn,” he once explained. “We have come into working with our own design ethos – what we call democratic design, which is like a common language around design,” he added.

IKEA’s Head of Design Starts His Own Design Consultancy
Chair by Marcus Engman and Piet Heineek

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“I came back to IKEA in a time when we decided to become more transparent and open up for more and bigger collaborations, which has been very inspiring and I hope this has contributed to that even more people have found IKEA interesting and vital,” said Engman in a statement.

IKEA’s Head of Design Starts His Own Design Consultancy
Marcus Engman

IKEA’s Head of Design Starts His Own Design Consultancy
On leaving his position, Engman explains that he is the guy who likes to start up things, but not the typical maintainer. Now he wanted to be able to create things himself again.

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“IKEA will continue to be explorative and curious but the exact organization and setup is something that will be defined in the coming period,” said Peter van der Poel, manager of IKEA Range & Supply, in a statement.

Feature image (on top): IKEA design chief Marcus Engman poses for a picture in Stockholm August 14, 2012. REUTERS/Henrik Montgomery/TT News Agency

IKEA’s Head of Design Starts His Own Design Consultancy, written by Tor Kjolberg

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