Ikea Moscow: Come for the Cheap Sofas, Stay for the Art

People go to Ikea for many reasons: to buy chairs that cost less than hardcover books, to eat meatballs, to catch a glimpse of Illeana Douglas extolling the features of a Grimstad bed frame. Soon we can add checking out a Piotr Uklanski sculpture to the list. Ikea is planning to roll out mixed-use spaces—don’t dare call them “malls”—that will transform their retail centers into cultural and entertainment destinations. (New Englanders: think Jordan’s Furniture on steroids.) First stop? Moscow. The company is commissioning major artworks for a gigantic retail park in the Russian capital, according to The Art Newspaper. Set to open in 2012, the Mega Teply Stan retail park will be home to large-scale works by Uklanski, Jim Lambie, and Jeppe Hein, who is proposing a mirror labyrinth to be placed opposite the new building’s facade. Curators Mollie Dent-Brocklehurst and Elliot McDonald, who you may recall for bringing contemporary art to the fairy-tale grounds of England’s Sudeley Castle, are serving as advisors to Ikea on the project.

“The new building will be totally different to what’s there now,” said Simon Dance, of Simon Dance Design, who has been working with the Swedish mega-brand since 2007. “The idea is to create a day out, somewhere people want to spend time, especially in Moscow where it takes so long to get anywhere because the traffic is so bad.” He said the concept of the developments is to “fuse culture, commerce, and leisure—and the works of art are a key part of our vision.” Plans for the site include shops, restaurants, an ice rink, as well as an Ikea flat-pack furniture store.