Who is Allen, and why are we always losing his key? Bad joke, I know, but it is true that we are always losing our Allen keys, and thanks to Murphy’s law it will happen at the exact time you need it, and of course, it will not be where you left it. IKEA is famous for easy assembly furniture and always includes Allen keys, and Japanese design studio Gelchop did us all a favor by blowing up the iconic instrument so we will never miss it. Gelchop designed a lamp for IKEA Art Event 2021 that pays tribute to the nifty furniture assembly tool, and I just have to say that the Allen key has really ‘grown up’ and since it is a light, it is safe for me to say this is also a ‘glow up’.
The L-shaped lamp is a part of a 10-piece homeware collection by IKEA where the brand has collaborated with five different artists and designers, including Sabine Marcelis and Snarkitecture co-founder Daniel Arsham. The collection aims to explore the sweet spot between art and function. “The traditional idea of art being high-end and design being part of mass culture simply is not relevant anymore. The two go fantastic together – that is where the magic happens,” said Henrik Most, creative leader at IKEA and someone who is making the ‘most’ of what these designers have to offer with their quirky ideas.
Gelchop is widely known to recontextualize everyday objects, and for IKEA, they focused on the Allen key because it is everpresent in their products and is an icon to their flat-pack furniture assembly style. The lamp sticks to the original tool’s form and keeps its distinctive, angular shape even as a lamp. The studio mentions their aim was to help ‘arguably the most iconic IKEA item of all’ have its time in the spotlight, and they took it literally by transforming it into a light! “The design is lightweight and easily portable. The Allen key symbolizes the essence of IKEA, but it’s rarely at the center of attention. As a tool that is used to assemble furniture, the Allen wrench has a small, insignificant existence. But I have changed it into a larger item that is different from its everyday size.” said Gelchop co-founder Ryota Morikawa.
Turning it into a supersize version of the original tool design emphasizes its graphic lines, while the LEDs hidden behind a diffuser on the underside emit a soft, indirect, almost ambient light. The frame is made from anodized aluminum and can be propped against a wall, lain on its side, or moved around depending on your needs. What salt is to a dish is what the Allen key is to IKEA – never the star of the show but absolutely essential in the creation of it. Time to go on a treasure hunt around my apartment and gather all those lost IKEA Allen keys, it is their time to shine under the Queen Allen key which has a hexagonal glowing halo thanks to its new purpose.