Ikea Made a Giant Falcon Out of 17,000 Allen Keys for This Store Opening

Mother's striking out-of-home work in Sheffield, England

Headshot of Tim Nudd

Sheffield, England, is known in part for peregrine falcons, who first bred there in 2012 and have become beloved figures—thanks to a webcam trained on St. George’s Church, as well as a blog detailing the birds’ lives.

Mother London has now honored the birds with a remarkable out-of-home project timed to Ikea’s opening of a store in Sheffield.

The agency worked with local artist Jason Heppenstall to make a falcon sculpture, with a brand-focused twist: The 23-foot-wide bird was made from over 17,000 Ikea allen keys—the famous tools used to assemble so much of Ikea’s furniture.

And what a remarkable sculpture it is.

“Allen the Peregrine” stands in Sheaf Square and serves, in the agency’s words, “as a joint symbol of the town and the new store.” Mother creatives Anthony Montagne and Oli Rimoldi told Adweek a little more about Allen.

“Ikea briefed us on doing something a little different with their store opening,” they said. “They really wanted to connect with the community they were going to arrive in. So we felt an homage to a proud symbol of Sheffield that all the people of the town could enjoy would be a really personal gesture.”

The creatives say the reaction from the locals has been heartwarming.

“People have really warmed to the piece,” they said. “In fact, there is now a custody battle going on in Sheffield between Ikea, the local council and the university” about where Allen will land next.

Heppenstall, the sculptor, was perfect for the job.

“He’s a bit of a local celeb in Sheffield, and actually known for crafting animal sculptures out of reclaimed materials,” the creatives said. “As usual in our industry, the timings were tight, so he had to work through the night to do a job that would normally take him three months, in six weeks.”

The bird has been a media darling for the past week, but Adweek can reveal one detail exclusively. Contrary to popular assumption, Allen is actually a girl, not a boy. Heppenstall quietly mentioned this to the agency upon her unveiling, pointing out her distinctive female falcon tail-feather arrangement.

Client: Ikea
Project: Allen the Peregrine
Media: OOH
Agency: Mother London
Creative Directors: Ana Balarin, Hermeti Balarin
Art Director: Anthony Montagne, Oli Rimoldi
Copywriter: Anthony Montagne, Oli Rimoldi
Artist / Sculptor: Jason Heppenstall
Project Producer: Emma Hodson
Event Producers: Matt Myatt, Francesca Sharpes
Account Director: Matthew Taylor

@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.