IKEA’s first record player is part of the new collection Obegränsad (‘limitless’), aimed at people who make music at home. Completely in black, the collection is the result of a collaboration between Swedish dance DJs Swedish House Mafia and Friso Wiersma, the only Dutch in-house designer at IKEA. The collection includes a special desk, cabinets, racks and bags that exactly fit LPs and even slippers. But the eye-catcher is the minimalist record player.
“Vinyl in itself is something irrational. Other minimalist turntables are often thin and slim, but I chose a rather thick, chunky design. The record player can take up a lot of space in your interior, you also make a statement with it,” says Wiersma from Sweden. The record player has a turntable that is partly positioned over the edge of the housing. “This emphasizes the circle. The circle also plays a major role in the visual identity of Swedish House Mafia,” explains Wiersma.
The turntable has a built-in preamplifier, a replaceable cartridge and needle, and a USB-C power cable. Connecting to speakers is done with a simple RCA cable. “We wanted to make a very accessible record player. Simple to use and in shape,” says Wiersma.
The romance of spinning pictures
The turntable is not intended for audiophiles. “It is for people who are just starting out with vinyl. It is as much ‘plug-and-play’ as possible. It is about the essence of playing records. Everything is deliberately not digital. We therefore do not have a bluetooth function for wireless streaming to speakers or headphones built-in.”
According to Wiersma, the cables also deliberately run along the side instead of the back. “That’s why you can see them well. Cables are part of the analog experience.” If you want better sound quality later on, you can replace the Audio Technica brand cartridge with a more expensive one. Wiersma: “I think it sounds super good. I’ve already exchanged my own old Philips record player for this record player.”
The Dutch designer himself is a music fanatic and a great lover of vinyl. “The music experience is very different from Spotify or Apple Music. You’re almost schizophrenic listening through playlists and shuffle from one artist to another. The great thing about records is the idea that artists have created something from scratch. builds up to the end. In short, music as the artist intended. And it’s also a pleasant way to listen. I like the romance of it, the act of turning a record.”
The Dutchman is one of fourteen in-house designers at IKEA and has previously designed furniture, salad bowls and cutlery. “But this collection suits me the most, because music is a very big passion of mine. I also make music and sing, and used to be in a band. I’ve always had a record player too. Music is a way of life for me and I also go to concerts a lot. There are a lot of people for music is very important and they want that reflected in their interior.”
The Swedish furniture chain often comes up with special collections aimed at hobbies, such as cooking or gaming. Obegränsad responds to the growing group that makes music themselves on their laptop or tablet. “We want to stimulate that creativity and interaction. That is why this collection has, among other things, a producers desk, a desk with a layout aimed at producing music. Together with Swedish House Mafia we have thought about how to set up a studio at home. They also used to have their own own studio built with IKEA furniture.” The desk also has two speaker stands and a shelf that can be pulled out from under the desktop, for example for a midi keyboard.
In addition to the record player, Wiersma is also proud of the clock in the new collection. That is a black circle in which three small white circles revolve around each other. “Music can give time a different kind of role. We wanted a way to convey that sense of intimacy.”
Chat at the bar with IKEA CEO
Wiersma calls the fact that he ended up at IKEA five years ago ‘just luck’. “I got to talk to an IKEA CEO at the bar after a design conference in Amsterdam. We immediately clicked and was invited for a conversation in Sweden. I come from a Frisian family with carpenters. I love craft and design. down to earth is aimed at real use. IKEA is also very involved in this, design is very close to the consumer. What you want to say as a designer is subordinate to that.”
In his time as a student, Wiersma didn’t like IKEA. “I saw IKEA as my enemy then. I made furniture that cost at least a thousand euros because it was handmade. You then have to compete against an IKEA that sells everything for a few hundred euros. I did a project about what I would do differently if I had an industrial process like IKEA available. Robot techniques and computer-controlled machines are making more and more possible.”
Probably sold out quickly
Wiersma’s record player is available from October 1 for 129 euros, but the edition is limited. IKEA therefore expects that the turntable will be sold out quickly. “This is a kind of experiment. We are curious how this will be received. But it has already received so much attention worldwide in recent months. The record player was for sale in Belgium for a day due to a mistake and was immediately sold out. TikTok videos about it have been viewed millions of times.”
Finally: what is Wiersma’s favorite LP? “From Chet Baker. By the way, my wife and I buy each other new LPs every few weeks at the local record store. We’re lucky: one of the best record stores in all of Sweden is right here in our village.”
Tonie van Ringelestijn, editor-in-chief Bright