Contemporary art Russian Federation

Ikea adds culture to shopping experience

Contemporary artists create sculptures for Moscow’s mega retail park

LONDON. Global giant Ikea Retail Estate is planning multi-million pound commissions by major contemporary artists, including Piotr Uklanski, Jeppe Hein and Jim Lambie, as part of an “airport-sized” Moscow-based development due to open in 2012.

The works are part of a plan to roll out mixed-use spaces across Ikea sites, beginning with Russia and the former Soviet republics. The first will open at the mammoth 260,000 sq. m Mega Teply Stan retail park in Moscow. “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.

Dance described himself as “a big fan of public art”. He said that a visit to an exhibition in 2007 of outdoor sculpture by contemporary artists at Sudeley Castle, Gloucestershire, inspired him to include art in the development. “The key thing for us is interaction, and people there were having fun with the works.”

The Sudeley exhibition, “Reconstruction”, was curated by former Gagosian director Mollie Dent-Brocklehurst, now co-ordinator of Dasha Zhukova’s Garage Centre for Contemporary Culture in Moscow, and Elliot McDonald, curator of the Hiscox Collection. They have ­been brought in to advise Ikea. “We’re thrilled,” said McDonald. He expects four or five works to be commissioned, including one piece by a Russian artist.

Jeppe Hein is proposing a mirror labyrinth to be placed opposite the new building’s façade, which will be a whopping 300m in length and 24m in height. Uklanski is working on a large-scale iron sculpture, which will be viewable from the 16-lane motorway that runs alongside the site, while Lambie intends to make a new version of Secret Affair, 2007, a work that inspired Dance at Sudeley.

“We want to create a better everyday life for many people,” Hakan Pehrsson, the head of commercial development at Ikea Shopping Centres Russia & CIS, told us. “With this

project, we feel that we [can] give extra quality to the life of the whole family.” Dance added: “It’s about creating a series of events. Like a great Hitchcock film, you’ll turn a corner and there will be something you don’t expect.”

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