As long as a brand is responding to the desires of a certain lifestyle, the borders between different industries are less important. Expanding the business and brand into new territory – solely or in collaboration with other brands – is a macro trend sometimes described in terms of The Convergence Economy.
Swedish interior giant Ikea, for example, is one of those stretching, bending and blurring its concept. When the Salone del Mobile opened up in Milan this spring, Ikea surprised with a preview of its new pop-up restaurant ”Ikea Temporary” in Milan. Add to this a
4000 square meter exhibition with products and kitchens styled by famed designers, it was hard to tell whether Ikea is into Billy bookshelves, meatballs, hospitality, entertainment or art.
Time and place
Another brand that is successfully expanding its universe is Michelin starred Copenhagen restaurant Noma (four times winner of the ”World’s Best Restaurant Award”).
Some ten years ago, Noma reinvented the Nordic cuisine and became world famous for its innovative, yet basic approach. Focusing on ”time and place” Noma works solely with produce from the region and every dish is carefully composed with regard to what is in season; the ”Weather Recipes” including dishes like ”Snowman”, "Birch Wood Dessert” and ”Blueberries surrounded by their Natural Environment”.
However, the creative team under celebrity chef René Redzepi shows no fear of unconventional collaborations or crossing borders. When invited to a guest appearance at the Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo in January, the team reinvented the Noma concept – moving the entire staff to Tokyo but leaving the ingredients at home. Instead, the Noma team went off to explore the winter produce of Japan and created a menu for this particular time and place.
In the same hospitable spirit, Noma recently opened up its own premises at a trendy Copenhagen location for new collaborations. For a couple of weeks Noma’s restaurant space was transformed into a lifestyle concept store by Club Monaco, featuring a curated boutique of women’s and men’s clothing and accessories, homeware and Noma dishware as well as vintage pieces and books.
The pop-up's design was made to match the vintage items for sale, and featured woven art installations and hand crafted wooden tents. The installations were, of course, available for purchase.
The experience was completed by the guest appearance of Swedish coffee bar Koppi Kaffe and resident wine bar Ved Stranden 10, offering shoppers drinks, pastries, snacks and tasting events accompanied by live music.
The collaboration was cleverly named ”The Bowline” after the ancient, ingeniously simple knot that is used to form a fixed loop at the end of a rope. Sometimes referred to as ”King of the knots” the bowline is easy to tie and untie, especially after being subjected to a load. In many ways the perfect symbol for a temporary collaboration where brands are seamlessly united and separated.