IKEA x Marimekko: Inspired by Scandinavia’s sauna culture

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By Cathy Rose A. Garcia, Managing Editor

SAUNA culture is an essential part of life in Scandinavia, particularly in Finland and Sweden. So it comes as no surprise that Swedish retail giant IKEA and Finnish design company Marimekko have collaborated on a limited-edition collection inspired by Nordic sauna culture.

IKEA Philippines launched on March 9 the Bastua collection, which features colorful bath towels, kimono robes, a leaf-shaped tray, a mirror, and a sauna bucket.

“The collaboration encapsulates the sensations of endless summers and the simple and aesthetic beauty of Nordic nature in furniture and accessories for the home,” Henrik Most, creative leader at IKEA, said in a statement on the company’s website.

The Bastua collection is the first time that Marimekko has designed a set of prints for any collaboration.

  Marimekko is best known for its original and bold prints such as the iconic Unikko (poppy) and Kivet (stones). In recent years, it has collaborated with global brands such as Uniqlo and Adidas. 

“Capturing the essence of Marimekko’s Finnish roots and its connection to the historic origins of sauna culture was a fundamental part of the design journey and the creation of the Bastua prints,” Rebekka Bay, creative director at Marimekko, said in a statement.

Marimekko designer Maija Louekari came up with the leaf print (Raparperi), which is inspired by the rhubarb plants that grow near sauna buildings in Finland. She also designed the steam flower (Höyrykukka) and the bar stripe (Pötkö), both of which can be found on the Bastua water bottles. 

Designer Sami Ruotsalainen made the woodcarving print (Puuleikkaus), which took its inspiration from the curves of the log walls in traditional sauna cabins. This woodcarving print was used as the pattern for the Bastua towels.

“The IKEA and Marimekko collaboration was a meeting of minds between the creative teams from both brands. More than just both being from the Nordic region, IKEA and Marimekko share the same ideals of making great design accessible for the many people,” Patrick Marcelo, IKEA Philippines Marketing and PR manager, told BusinessWorld.   ‘BASTU’ Finland is known as the birthplace of sauna.  In 2020, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) included Finnish sauna culture in its Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

The word “sauna” is originally from the Finnish language and is now widely used in English to refer to the traditional bath and bathhouse.  The Ikea x Marimekko collection’s name “Bastua” is taken from the Swedish word for sauna or “bastu.”

For Scandinavians, the sauna is a place to relax and spend time with family and friends. It’s not uncommon for houses and even company offices to have their own saunas.

“This (Bastua collection) is a particular pleasure for me since it reminds me of my childhood, Ikea furniture, Marimekko dresses and sauna,” Sweden Ambassador to the Philippines Annika Thunborg said during the launch event in IKEA Philippines on Thursday.

  Ms. Thunborg recalled how she used to spend Sundays in a sauna at home with her family. “And when you can’t stand the heat (in the sauna), you take a cold shower, take a roll in the snow or take a dip in the hole in the icy lake. It’s very relaxing and reenergizing,” she said.

“I am glad we can bring a small piece of this rather exotic Nordic culture to the Philippines through the collaboration of two great Nordic companies — Marimekko and IKEA””  SELF-CARE According to IKEA’s Life at Home Report, Filipinos are concerned about their health and well-being, as well as housing. The survey also showed 79% of Filipinos are prioritizing taking care of themselves, physically and emotionally.

“We believe that self-care is for everyone. The (Bastua) collection, although born from the idea of the sauna culture, is all about the little things we do to take care of ourselves, whoever you are and whatever you do to take care of yourself. Not just in the sauna,” Mr. Marcelo said.

Most of the items in the Bastua collection can be used whether you are going to a sauna or just at relaxing at home, such as the bath towels (P990), a candle (P490), trays (P590), a shower curtain (P590), water bottles (P690), and a glass jug (P1,090).

The kimono robe (P1,590) comes in two patterns — the giant rhubarb leaf and black stripes — and is available in two sizes (small/medium and large/extra-large).

  The long sauna towel (P790) can also double as a table runner, while the smaller one can be used as a tea towel.

  The oversized floor cushion with its eye-catching red and green print would add a pop of color in any living area, while the LED lantern will give a soothing glow to the bedroom. The collection also includes two round trays that perfectly fit the top of the Bastua side table.

The most expensive items in the collection are the wooden bench (P3,990), while the most affordable one is the pink and red striped shopping bag (P90).

  However, it seems the most in-demand items are the redesigned Frakta bags in the Bastua prints (P190). The spacious carrier bags were already out of stock at the IKEA Philippines physical store by Thursday afternoon, the same day the Bastua collection was launched. It is also no longer available on the Ikea Philippines online store.

The collection also features IKEA’s first-ever sauna bucket with a ladle (P1,590).

In Nordic countries, it is essential to have a bucket and ladle when going to a sauna. The sauna bucket is filled with water that would create steam during bathing, while the ladle is used to splash water on the sauna rocks.

  Some Filipinos may scratch their head at how they can incorporate the sauna bucket in their everyday life, but Mr. Marcelo noted that buckets are a “huge part of Filipino bathing, not just in the sauna.”

Asked if there will be another IKEA and Marimekko collaboration, Mr. Marcelo said: “At IKEA, we always find ways to offer new things to our customers and we love collaborating with brands who have the same ideals as ours. Aside from the collaboration with Marimekko, we also have other new limited collections coming soon, including the ÖMSESIDIG collection — a collaboration with nine Latin American creatives coming in April.”