IKEA unveils inflatable chair that "challenges traditional gaming design"

As part of Milan design week, IKEA has launched a collection of gaming furniture designed to subvert the genre’s stereotypical “cyberpunk-y” look.

The Brännboll collection includes 20 pieces of seating, storage and various accessories designed to make at-home gameplay more immersive while blending into the home when not in use.

Inflatable green chair from Brännboll gaming furniture collectionInflatable green chair from Brännboll gaming furniture collection
IKEA’s Brännboll gaming collection includes an inflatable chair

Among them is a spill-proof coaster, IKEA’s first successful attempt at inflatable furniture and a modern version of a rocking chair that moves with the player.

The collection was based on the insight that the number of gamers worldwide reached 3.3 billion in 2023, which according to IKEA makes it “the world’s largest hobby”.

IKEA inflatable chair hanging from a coat hookIKEA inflatable chair hanging from a coat hook
The chair can be hung up when not in use

Many of these people are casual gamers, who aren’t served by the highly technical desk setups facilitated by traditional gaming furniture – as seen in IKEA’s first foray into the category in 2021.

“For Brännboll we focused a lot on people who don’t identify themselves with the stereotypes connected to being a gamer,” IKEA product design developer Philip Dilé told Dezeen.

“Gaming furniture has been confined to pretty much one look and also very much focused on desk setups,” he added. “The predominant aesthetic is very dark and sort of cyberpunk-y. It’s very thematic, with strong neon accent colours and RGB lights.”

Girl sitting in the easy chair from the Brännboll gaming furniture collection Girl sitting in the easy chair from the Brännboll gaming furniture collection
The Brännboll easy chair was designed to move with the user

Based on interviews, workshops and home visits with real gamers, the Brännboll collection was designed to be moveable and flexible so gamers can play in different rooms and on different platforms from handheld consoles to VR headsets.

Its visual language “challenges traditional gaming design” and borrows instead from the world of sports.

“We chose a very playful approach,” Dilé said. “Just like athleisure or a good pair of running shoes, we wanted products that can be very performant when you want them to be but also very comfortable when you’re just relaxing and hanging out.”

Arm chair from IKEA gaming collectionArm chair from IKEA gaming collection
Unfolding the seat pillow turns this armchair into a low lounger

The main focus of the collection are several low-slung chairs that can be dragged directly in front of the TV for optimum views, as well as providing additional seating for playing with friends.

This includes a blow-up lounge chair made from sheets of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), which IKEA normally uses to make inflatable changing mats for babies.

The brand said it was its first successful inflatable furniture piece, following a failed attempt in the 1990s.

“We really wanted to make something that was lightweight, easy to transport and not filled with a lot of foam for the sake of affordability and recyclability,” Dilé said.

“So we went with air, which also brings with it the benefit that you can inflate or deflate it a little bit depending on your comfort preference.”

Side table with guard rail from Brännboll collectionSide table with guard rail from Brännboll collection
The Brännboll side table has a guard rail to prevent spillages

Another seating design turns from an armchair into a low lounger by unfolding its seat cushion, while the Brännboll easy chair has a breathable mesh seat that is suspended in a metal frame using flexible straps.

“It’s sort of our novel take on a rocking chair,” Dilé said. “When you’re gaming, it moves with you and you have this added level of immersion. So you can almost lean into the corners if you’re playing a racing game.”

Girl using VR headset on a rug by IKEAGirl using VR headset on a rug by IKEA
IKEA also designed a rug to help VR gamers keep a sense of their surroundings

Many of the accessories, too, were designed to help players stay engrossed in their game. There is a large coaster fitted with two inner grooves to prevent spillages and a side table with wheels and a guard rail to keep drinks and snacks in place while eyes are glued to the screen.

Similarly, a circular rug helps gamers maintain a sense of space while in virtual reality and prevents them from running into things while blinded by their headset.

Caddy holding gaming equipmentCaddy holding gaming equipment
The collection also includes plenty of storage for gaming paraphernalia

Storage is another key component in the collection and ranges from a caddy on wheels to a gaming station disguised as a cupboard and a basket designed to accommodate handheld consoles and paraphernalia such as chargers, headsets, controllers and cartridges.

The felt basket can be unfolded to become a low table, informed by tennis ball buckets whose handles turn into legs so players don’t have to crouch down whenever they serve.

“You can actually have everything at arm’s reach,” Dilé said. “When you unfold those legs, you open the lid and you take out your things, then you’re set up and the game is on.”

Hand holding felt basket from Brännboll gaming furniture collection by IKEAHand holding felt basket from Brännboll gaming furniture collection by IKEA
This storage bucket can be turned into a side table

IKEA is currently previewing Brännboll as part of its 1st exhibition at Milan design week, with the collection set to be released in September 2024.

Other product launches as part of this year’s festival include a bright-range toilet by Samuel Ross that was designed to look “closer to a sculpture” and reissues of plates designed by Italian architect Gio Ponti for Villa Planchart.

The 1st exhibition takes place from 15 to 21 April 2024 as part of Milan design week. See our dedicated Milan guide on Dezeen Events Guide for information about exhibitions, installations and talks taking place throughout the week.

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