Wonderland.

Kit Neale

The designer tells us about his collaboration with IKEA.

With unique, quirky prints and a colour palette that embraces all shades, there’s no denying that Kit Neale is at the forefront of experimental fashion.

Fun and fearless, his bright and bold aesthetic has led to him collaborating with brands including Coca-Cola, Opening Ceremony and Hallmark. His latest commercial endeavour sees him teaming up with furniture powerhouse IKEA for their Kit Neale x IKEA: SPRIDD Collection. The collaboration features Neale’s iconic prints strewn across bowls, bags and tents – ensuring that you get noticed this upcoming festival season – obviously, we’re obsessed!

We grabbed a moment with Kit to find out more about this latest collaboration.

IKEA is known for its minimalism, yet your pieces are super colourful. What made you be interested in this partnership?

Kit: I think IKEA is known for many things. Principally for me, when considering any partnership there has to be a mutual appreciation for our common interests and understanding of our differences. I have huge respect for IKEA’s strategy and ethics. IKEA has always pioneered quality design for the ‘many people’ based on our everyday needs. Sustainability has always been the root of IKEA’s evolution while maintaining affordability for the masses, and strong moral principles in relation to employment, trade and social responsibility. For me, this made a partnership a no brainer. Our differences just strengthened the outcome for the project. We both wanted to challenge how IKEA is perceived and experiment with a different approach to design.

The collection looks incredible! Can you tell us a bit more about the inspiration behind it?

Kit: A running thread through all my work is youth culture – I am obsessed! I always look towards culture; current and historic trends, popular culture, subcultures, etc. I think youth culture is the founding principle to styles, besides uniforms and custom dress. The association of music, style and dress in youth culture is well documented. Perhaps less explored is how this influences interior design. That was our starting point. We also explored the sense of being nomadic and free. We wanted to challenge what home means to a younger demographic, and I think with today’s globalisation, the internet and better transport connections, the home is where you make it.

The collection includes not only furnishings, but also clothing and festival pieces. Are there any festivals you’re looking forward to this summer?

Kit: There are lots of festival type products. When researching the inspiration and pulling together the product range it made total sense to bring tents, the duffle bag and other outdoor products in to the range. I have however, embarrassingly, not been to a festival for years. I think I am perhaps too precious. I can’t live without my home comforts but I had some great times at festivals and looked back fondly on these coming of age experiences. I do however love to travel. I hope to get out to the Far East sometime in the summer with the duffle bag slung over my shoulder and use the towel on the beach.

Do you have a favourite piece from the collection?

Kit: I am notoriously super fickle – I am sure I have already picked my favourite item to someone and what I say here is different. It changes on a week by week basis. I am very into the bowls at the moment: I use them daily and also have them as plant pots around my flat. One of them has a fish in the bottom which always amuses me when he emerges from the milk of my musli.

“A running thread through all my work is youth culture – I am obsessed!”

You’ve also created a video for the collaboration – “Don’t think – Dance!”. Can you tell us a bit more about this?

Kit: I worked with IKEA last summer to produce the visual content for the collection; to create a teaser film was an idea we collectively came up with. I wanted the visual content in some ways to be less product focused and more towards the energy, attitude and vibes of the collection. Brands are often more than just product, and I think IKEA is ultimately a lifestyle brand. The film emphasises the essence of culture and unity which is the core to the collection bringing us together through a sense of having fun, music, styles and acceptance of our differences. It was great fun producing this at IKEA’s HQ last summer in Almhult Sweden. We completely raided their studios, producing the biggest set they’ve ever produced and had an absolute riot! The guys in the film were superstars. We had such fun dressing up in the 4 inch heels at the beginning promo film and morph suits with green wigs inside the tent scene.

You’re known for creating eclectic, statement prints. Do you have a specific type of customer/audience in mind when you’re designing?

Kit: It is nothing new that these are historic times highlighting the intolerances that rage through our societies. For me the arts and design is fundamentally about improving our lives and the society we live in. This can be achieved through function. IKEA is a great example where they have for decades improved the quality of so many lives through functional designs at an affordable price. They also recently, through the IKEA Foundation, created a flat pack shelter for Syrian Refugee’s which won an award for its design. They are an example for how functional design can improve our society and our lives. I perhaps take a more philosophical approach to design. I believe both have their place and the exposed intolerance of today’s world demonstrates this. I like to think that Kit Neale is for anyone who wants to share our attributes and togetherness. My designs are to highlight the greatness in our differences and help towards making these differences acceptable. The designs we create in the my studio are not for everyone and that is fine with me, but we don’t exclude. For me design is about nurturing culture and KIT NEALE is for anyone who want to have fun, be colourful and free to be the person they want to be. Making someone smile and feel united is job done for me.

You’ve collaborated with all sorts of brands, from Coca-Cola to Opening Ceremony. Is there a particular brand or artist you’d like to work with in the future?

Kit: I have got some fun projects coming up but don’t want to rest. There are many brands and artists I would love to work with. I am very in to space at the moment and would love to do something with a hotel, restaurant or public space where we can creative a sensual experience through product design but also the service and the uniforms that go with the staff. I would really love to do more interior stuff, maybe again with IKEA! Also to work more with music, film or theatre – perhaps on sets and costumes for a production. Working with a dance company would be a dream!

Words
Ryan Cahill
Kit Neale

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