At the age of 13, Åsa Ekström decided to become a “mangaka”, a cartoonist inspired by the Japanese way of creating comic-strip drawings called Manga. Manga is excellent at storytelling through pictures. “It’s filled with illustrative artifices that help mediate feelings in a direct and straightforward way”, Åsa explains.
CHARLOTTA TECKNING Fabric
On the New-for-2010 IKEA CHARLOTTA TECKNING fabric pictured above and in the cushions in the image to the right, Åsa explains that the city is a fictitious mix of well-known buildings in Scandinavia among which Godzilla stands. Though she says she’d like people to come up with their own stories about the images in the panels, she does admit,
It’s Sergel’s Square in Stockholm that’s getting fried”
CHARLOTTA BLOCK Fabric
With the motif on CHARLOTTA BLOCK, Åsa shows her love of Tokyo, the capital city of Japan. “It’s a great city and dressed in its garb of neon it becomes almost magic”, she says.
CHARLOTTA HIMMEL Fabric
When Åsa designed CHARLOTTA HIMMEL she found her inspiration in Japanese woodcuts called ukiyo-e. Ukiyo-e means “pictures of a floating world” and it’s an art form that has existed in Japan since the seventeenth century.
CHARLOTTA MÄRKE Fabric
Just like the other fabrics in the CHARLOTTA collection, CHARLOTTtA MÄRKE is a mix of Scandinavia and Japan. “Here I’ve mixed Japanese tattooing with Scandinavian motifs. A girl in manga style dressed in a Swedish folk costume and a Viking made with an old-world Japanese mask used on stage in Noh plays as a model”, Åsa explains.
Last CHARLOTTA VILD, Åsa’s own favorite. not least because of “the miracle of origami, Japanese paper art”, as Åsa puts it. She wanted to mix this ancient, tradition-bound, art form with something in this context extremely untraditional, namely Scandinavian animals. in Åsa’s opinion this way of mixing describes the Japanese culture in a very striking way; tradition alongside new thinking, respect and disrespect in harmony. “I myself love jellyfish, but it’s very difficult to fold an origami jellyfish, I know, because I’ve really tried”, Åsa laughs.
Her first short 6-page comic was published in Manga Mania in 2004. Though she’s been published many times since then, this is the first time she’s designed textiles. She spent three years at the Centre for Cartoon Studies in Malmö, Sweden, and working as an assistant at a cartoon studio in Japan before being contacted by IKEA for this project.