IKEA Canada has unveiled a series of colorful couches inspired by different Pride flags, including those representing the transgender, nonbinary and asexual communities.
Created to mark Pride Month, the 10 “Love Seats” were created by four LGBTQ designers and feature everything from gigantic ruffles to colorful patters and faux flowers.
The Swedish retailer said in a press release that it hopes the campaign will honor “the richness and diversity of the 2SLGBTQ+ community,” using an expanded acronym that encompasses those identifying as two-spirit, an Indigenous American term for those with both a male and female spirit.
“There’s more to Pride than a rainbow,” IKEA said, alluding to the range of flags featured in the campaign, including the lesbian flag and the pink, yellow and blue pansexual flag. The company described the couches as “a platform to celebrate identity and share stories of love.”
Although the eye-catching designs were unveiled last week, buzz has grown online in recent days. And while the couches were broadly celebrated, some stirred debate on social media.
In particular, a purple and pink “bisexual” couch, designed by Charlotte Carbone, divided opinions. Drawing on the colors of the bisexual flag, the sofa is layered with hand-shaped fabric – and features armrests resembling actual arms.
More serious concerns were leveled against a phrase featured on the cushions reading, “When you change ‘or’ to ‘and,’ nobody believes you.”
“I both love and hate the bi couch,” wrote one Twitter user. “Somehow the words are my least favorite part. They’re weird and make you think about biphobia, whereas the other couches are just pretty.” The commenter nonetheless added: “The hands are just cursed and I kinda love it.”
The couch’s text was inspired by the work of spoken word poet Brian Lanigan, who later took to Twitter to explain its meaning. Lanigan said it originated from poem he wrote aged 15 about the “bisexual erasure I experienced from an ex-partner and others.”
He added that the hands were “meant to represent the audience reaction, especially those of other bisexual folks who would approach me after performances and share their story with me.”
Other designs included a couch based on the “Progress” flag, a variation on the more familiar rainbow flag, that features hundreds of faux flowers (pictured top). One of the sofa designers meanwhile drew on the pinks and oranges of the lesbian flag to create a swirling watercolor pattern.
The “nonbinary” couch, a gray sofa tightly harnessed with yellow, purple and white straps, also became a talking point on Twitter. One user likened the belts to “kink gear” while another wrote, “okay the bisexual ikea couch is odd can we talk about the nonbinary bondage couch now.”
Others playfully speculated about different kinds of communities that could have been represented, with a Garfield-themed couch proposed for “Italian pride” and couches made of beer cans for “straight pride.”
As part of the IKEA campaign, individuals from of all the communities represented sat on their respective couches as they told their personal stories to the camera.
The company has not announced plans to sell the couches, although some social media users expressed interest in buying them. For now, the couches are being displayed at select IKEA stores in Canada.
The retailer says it has a “long-standing history” of supporting LGBTQ commun