Another couch, another controversy in the land of Swedish meatballs and unassembled furniture. Fresh off the heels of their controversial decision to serve fried chicken and watermelon in “honor” of Juneteenth, which resulted in more than 20 employees calling off work in protest, IKEA has now apparently decided that launching Pride-themed couches is the way to go.
IKEA announced its new Pride couches on Tuesday with a video of a collection of brightly patterned love seats — each representative of a different LGBTQ+ pride flag. Accompanying the loveseats were videos of people sharing personal stories about how they identify. Based on the campaign, it appears that the people who shared their stories were inspirations for their respective couches. (The designers themselves are three cisgender queer women and one straight man who identified himself as an “ally.”)
All 10 couches display unique, definitely functional detailing — some with 3-dimensional hands, some with attached cloud pillows — and are all part of the IKEA Canada Pride collection. The flags represented in the collection include the non-binary flag, the transgender flag, the progress flag, the bisexual flag (we’ll get to this particular couch in a second), and others. After all, the campaign explains, “There’s more to Pride than a rainbow.”
In case you need more of a visual, let’s dive into some descriptions: First, the non-binary love seat, designed by Charlotte Carbone, is grey with white, yellow, and purple straps (we assume to celebrate bondage, yes?). The transgender couch, designed by Bianca Daniela Nachtman, is a light blue base, with a light pink and blue rainbow, and white clouds that really just pop right out at you (literally).
But then there’s the bisexual couch, also designed by Charlotte Carbone, which is covered in bright pink, blue, teal, and purple hands (some appear to be actual plastic hands, attached to the couch’s hand-covered pattern). On the back cushions, large serial killer-adjacent handwriting reads: “When you change or to and nobody believes you.” That’s quite a message, but more importantly, those hands were a real choice!
Obviously, we have a lot of questions, as do many other people. For example: Why — and I cannot stress this enough — is the bisexual couch covered in so, so many hands? Does the progress couch require assembly (I assume each floral attachment will be catalogued in the instructions as piece A-JJ)? Did the non-binary couch just take a stance on the “kink at pride” discourse? Was that stance… yes? And finally: What color rug goes with any of these sofas???
The love seats certainly sparked a reaction from the queer community on Twitter. Many people seemed at least a little bit uncomfortable with the whole thing. Others seemed…a lot a bit uncomfortable.
In a statement to Refinery29, IKEA Canada said: “This year, we knew we wanted to do something that highlighted the diversity within the 2SLGBTQ+ community to provide more space for identities who may not receive the same level of attention during Pride, especially during COVID-19. In collaboration with our creative agency, we wanted to create a platform to celebrate all these different identities in a way that only IKEA could – through loveseats representing the many different Pride flags.”
When asked specifically about the bisexual inspired loveseat, Claudia Mayne, Director, Marketing Communications, IKEA Canada, wrote, “The Bisexual Love Seat is inspired by Brian’s story and a poem he wrote when he was 15 years old… We’ve received tremendous response to the collection of custom Love Seats to date and appreciate the dialogue and discussion each has created as a platform for sharing stories from across the 2SLGBTQ+ community.”
While the intentions here are great, just please keep reminding yourself: The bisexual couch can’t hurt you.
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