The evolution of the famous IKEA Blue Bag

Everyone’s favourite IKEA blue bag has undergone a lot of changes over the years. But none as drastic as the latest incarnation.

In a collaboration with British pattern and textile designer Zandra Rhodes, known for her bold use of colours and maximalism, Ms Rhodes’ “blue” bag hits it way out of the park.

Firstly, it’s pink. It has frills. A huge departure for the hardworking $1 bag that has made headlines in more ways than one. And been made into more things than we can keep up with.

IKEA Pink Bag - KARISMATISK
Photo: IKEA.com

The pink bag that kinda looks like a dumpling is already available in some IKEA stores, retailing at $7.99 for the large one and $4.99 for medium.

Ms Rhodes’ 26 statement-making pieces in the KARISMATISK range is bound to turn heads. Admittedly, it’s not for everyone, but one or two pieces may be just the thing you need to add a big loud pop of colour.

How has the IKEA Blue Bag evolved

The IKEA FRAKTA has got to be the only carrier bag that has received attention from world renowned designers.

From what I gather, the IKEA blue bag started with designer duo Knut and Marianne Hagberg, over 30 years ago.

The story goes “when IKEA opened its stores in Japan, Knut and Marianne were asked to come up with ideas that would help customers transport goods home from stores using public transport, as not many customers owned cars.

They came up with FRAKTA, a version of the blue bag with a zip that can be carried as a backpack. On top of this Knut and Marianne also developed the handy yellow trolley for the yellow bags that you find in IKEA stores.”

Then, further developing the design, Ingvar Kamprad came home from Asia with a new material. The material was usually used to store rice. Ingvar and IKEA sales manager Lars-Göran Petterson made the first prototype which was designed to carry up to 50 kilograms.

IKEA Blue Bag - Frakta
Photo: IKEA.com

When it came to testing the bag, they needed something that weighed 50 kilograms. “Where in an office environment can you find something that weighs 50 kilos? Jennifer! She weighed 50 kilos.” Knut continues the story, “so in she jumped. If the bag could hold her, then it could hold 50 kilos.” So there we have it, the tale of how an icon came into being.”

And the rest was history.

IKEA Blue Bag gets designer touch

Hay was one of the first to give the blue bag a new design. They dropped the IKEA logo on the straps and went with a white and forest green woven fabric, with forest green straps. It was refreshing to have a more subdued version of the bold blue bag.

IKEA Blue Bag - Hay
Photo: IKEA.com

Then in 2018, Colette turned the blue bag white and gave it dots.

IKEA Blue Bag - Colette
Photo: IKEA.com

In the same year, IKEA released a series of yellow bags for their 75th Anniversary. These remain one of my favourite versions of the FRAKTA. Each bag featured famous quotes from founder Ingvar Kamprad.

75th anniversary bags
Photo: IKEA.com

Next up, to much fanfare, IKEA partnered with Virgil Abloh, the artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear collection to launch a limited edition collection. Among the 15 items in the MARKERAD collection, he offered a touch-in-cheek “Sculpture” bag, which was snapped up before you can say “Frakta”.

Virgil Abloh Sculpture
Photo: IKEA.com

Two years ago, IKEA also used their influence to make a statement with a rainbow bag. The STORSTOMMA is still available for sale at $2.99.

IKEA Blue Bag - STORSTOMMA
Photo: IKEA.com

Over the years IKEA has offered different iterations of the FRAKTA. They made them with the same material and almost same dimensions. But in different colours.

Good thing to know, you’re not stuck with blue.

Which is your favourite IKEA blue bag?

Watch the story of the IKEA Blue Bag