A group of students in a workshop, sitting round a table and an Ipad.

To Nytillverkad and beyond – IKEA, SPACE10, and designers of tomorrow explore future with vintage designs in AI

As IKEA presents the vintage inspired Nytillverkad collection at Milan Design Week, another curious dive into its design archives takes place: an explorative workshop to reimagine the IKEA design heritage for the future with artificial intelligence, AI. We sat down with workshop hosts Georgina McDonald and Alexandra Zenner of research and design lab SPACE10 as well as IKEA Design Manager Johan Ejdemo to talk about the potential of generative AI for design and the need to look back to look forward.

Textured fabrics, graphic patterns, bright colours, and natural materials fill the pages of IKEA catalogues from the 1970’s and 80’s. It’s a bold, warm aesthetic that marks everything from interior and graphic to fashion design at large of the times. And one that’s experiencing a revival in parts today, not least in the new IKEA Nytillverkad collection.

A page from an old IKEA catalogue with four red chairs around a white table.
A page from an old IKEA catalogue with four chairs in four different room settings.
Bold colours dot the products and pages of the IKEA catalogues from the 70's and 80's. Here, from 1976 and 1984.

There’s so much to be drawn from the sixties through the nineties of IKEA designs, and there’s something really transcendingly modern about the seventies and eighties in particular”, Alexandra Zenner, Creative & Planning at research and design lab SPACE10, says enthusiastically.

“Maybe it’s nostalgia!” Georgina McDonald, SPACE10 Creative & Partnerships, chimes in. She continues: “What comes with the advancement and speed of technology is the paradox of this kind of human need to slow down and look back. What is in the past? What was good then, and what is nice and familiar about it now?”


A portrait of a dark haired woman in a black jacket and a black turtleneck.
Georgina McDonald, Creative & Partnerships at SPACE10.
A portrait of a black haired woman in a black turtleneck.
Alexandra Zenner, Creative & Planning at SPACE10.
A stage with four people on it and a big screen behind them, showing a chair.
At the 2023 Milan Design Week, IKEA and SPACE10 co-hosted a workshop to explore future designs with the help of a generative AI model fed with 1970's and 80's IKEA catalogues.
An AI generated image showing a chrome compost bin, large family size.
A chrome compost bin generated by a student group contemplating food and food waste connected to the theme of Earth.
An AI generated image of an outdoor barbecue system with traditional lighting and garden red tones.
A group generated this design with the prompt "An outdoor barbecue system with traditional lighting and garden red tones".
A bunch of people sitting in an open area workshopping.
Several students attending the workshop said it was their first time interacting with generative AI in this way, and that they feel less intimidated and more confident in it being a tool for inspiration and ideas for the future as a result.
A woman in a black dress sitting in a conversation with another person, gesturing.
"This workshop has shown me that this is a powerful tool to visualize ideas, but we as designers need to fill them with emotion and closeness", product design student Ece Kaya shares her view on generative AI after the workshop.
A bald man with a beard in a brown vest sitting on a stage with a microphone in his hand.
Johan Ejdemo, Design Manager at IKEA.
Johan admits to knowing very little about AI himself. But he’s noticeably just as inspired as the student participants by the workshop introduction to AI, complete with a short film on AI created for SPACE10 by Joss Fong and Áron Filkey using AI models. 
“Just having it explained a bit here was enough to be inspired. It’s such a great way to connect our past and present at IKEA with the future. It's the story we’re telling with Nytillverkad as well, as we look to the future with eighty years of design behind us”, Johan explains.
A portrait of a bald man with a beard and glasses.

This workshop is such a great way to connect our past and present at IKEA with the future.

What is the potential impact of generative AI in design work today?

The Nytillverkad collection was announced and revealed at Milan Design Week, where the IKEA x SPACE10 workshop was also held. The first launch of Nytillverkad will be available in IKEA stores in July 2023.