This October, IKEA launches a new collection of soft toys on the theme of space called AFTONSPARV. Sounds simple, right? But you’d be surprised about the thought, care, design and love that goes into bringing a children quality product like this to market.
“At IKEA, the safety of our customers is our top priority, especially when it comes to children. To ensure safety, we conduct over a million product tests each year at our three IKEA Test Lab facilities. All IKEA products undergo risk assessments and testing programs to ensure that they meet relevant international and national legislation and standards in all markets where they are sold. Customers can trust that we take every possible measure to ensure that our products are safe to use, environmentally friendly, and meet or exceed their expectations”
– Marta Krupińska, Designer at IKEA of Sweden
We took a chance to sit down and talk to Marta Krupińska, the designer at IKEA of Sweden, to find out more.
Based on the belief that children are the experts in what they like and need, their ideas and interesting thoughts became the starting point for AFTONSPARV. The collection features products that support creativity, imagination, and role play, all inspired by a series of workshops with children between three and seven years old.
This space-themed AFTONSPARV range offers lots of room for creativity and play, just like the exciting and mystical world of outer space itself.
Amongst other products, the collection features soft-toy astronauts and aliens, finger puppets and a cushion – all made from 100% recycled polyester – as well as a cardboard rocket play tent, lamps, bed textiles and a glow-in-the-dark curtain.
AFTONSPARV will be available in IKEA stores globally starting from October 2023.
Marta Krupińska, Designer at IKEA of Sweden
What is the IKEA view on play and how does the collection support it?
Both IKEA and I share a belief in the power of play and its significance for childhood development. We can all relate to the experiences of our childhood, especially when it comes to play. Children are the most important people in the world, and their home can be an excellent playground. We believe that children have the right to play because it is the best way for them to learn, develop, and grow. The AFTONSPARV collection aims to spark children’s creativity and encourage them to explore their curiosity about outer space. This collection offers a range of opportunities for play, including cuddly soft toys, a cardboard space set, coloring paper, and a tent rocket.
Who was involved in the design and ideas behind this new collection?
The AFTONSPARV collection was initiated through a series of workshops conducted with children aged between 3 to 7 years old. These creative minds contributed their ideas and concepts for the soft toys, which included a friendly green alien that was added to the collection. During these workshops, the children agreed that white would be a fitting color for the space suit of the bear, cat, and bunny astronauts. They were thrilled to learn that the space suits could be removed from the toys and came up with numerous ideas for alternative outfits once the toys landed back on Earth. We were impressed by the children’s knowledge about the solar system and space, but since science doesn’t know everything about the universe, there’s also plenty of room for imagination and personal thoughts. The possibilities of play are endless!
Is it more complicated and does it take longer to design products for children than for adults?
I approach every design I work on with the same level of attention and importance, so I don’t really distinguish which ones are more complex. However, when it comes to designs for children, I prefer to use the term ‘more challenging’ due to the extra safety measures that need to be taken. Children have boundless creativity and often use products in ways beyond their original purpose. Design teams must be very mindful and anticipate all possible scenarios when creating products for children. Despite the challenges, I find designing for children enjoyable and rewarding.
Can you explain how product quality and safety have been considered for the AFTONSPARV collection?
At IKEA, the safety of our customers is our top priority, especially when it comes to children. To ensure safety, we conduct over a million product tests each year at our three IKEA Test Lab facilities. All IKEA products undergo risk assessments and testing programs to ensure that they meet relevant international and national legislation and standards in all markets where they are sold. Customers can trust that we take every possible measure to ensure that our products are safe to use, environmentally friendly, and meet or exceed their expectations. For example, our IKEA soft toys never have plastic buttons for eyes, as there is a risk of a child pulling them loose and putting them in their mouth. Instead, we use embroidered eyes.
And what about durability?
At IKEA, we not only test products during development, but also simulate everyday use with pull tests, washing tests, scratch resistance, and more. This allows us to gain a better understanding of how our products perform under everyday usage at home. Our team invests a significant amount of effort and attention into each product to ensure that our customers receive a durable, safe, and resilient product that can withstand even the roughest playtime with children. Our ultimate goal is to deliver products that last and bring joy to our customers.
In what way has sustainability been considered for this collection?
For me, the sustainability aspect of the design process is equally as important as the actual look and feel of the product. Here at IKEA, we ensure that all our products and collections are designed with sustainability in mind. Sustainability is one of the principles in our design philosophy called Democratic Design which helps us to develop only products that have a beautiful form and good function, are sustainable, of good quality and are available at a low price.
I can think of a few specific examples from AFTONSPARV to share with you. Firstly, the space-travelling soft toys and other items in the collection are made entirely from recycled polyester. Secondly, the rocket play tent is constructed from cardboard that contains at least 70% recycled material. Lastly, our AFTONSPARV lamps use a durable LED light source that can last for approximately 25,000 hours. This means that if the lamp is used for 3 hours a day, it could stay functional for up to 20 years.