Ikea's Design Director: “Copying Someone Else’s Design is Never Okay."

Vogue’s Brooke Bobb sat down with Marcus Engman, the head of design at Ikea, recently to talk about copying and some of sound bites are actually quite interesting. From that Balenciaga bag – a take on Ikea’s iconic big blue bag – to the line between inspiration and imitation, here are some of the most compelling excerpts …

On that Balenciaga bag: Engman was pleased to see that Demna Gvasalia had borrowed the distinct look of the Ikea shopping bag for his Balenciaga Arena tote. “Nobody here reacted in a negative way because it wasn’t about copying something. It had a different aim than Ikea’s aim, and we saw it as a designer acknowledging that the shopping bag is an iconic piece.”

On imitation vs. inspireation: “Copying someone else’s design is never okay at all,” Engman says. “But at the same time you have this thing going on right now, this sampling and building upon other people’s ideas to make something new and original.” He continues: “I think this is one of the hardest questions in the design world and for us especially: When is it okay to use an Ikea logo and when is it not? We own the logo and so we must give our approval.”

On fashion’s obsession with mundane must-haves: “I think there is something about these everyday things that you see all the time and you want to understand why they’ve become everyday items for millions of people—this bag must be one of the most sold in the world, so, of course, there is something attractive to a designer in that regard. Designers are curious people by nature.” This might explain the industry’s fascination with taking mundane logotypes like DHL [as shown by Vetements] and McDonald’s [as done by Moschino] and turning them into high fashion.