Although best known for its meatballs and maze-like warehouse stores, there’s one IKEA product that its customers never intentionally buy but almost always leave the store with: an Allen key, the unsung hero of flatpack furniture that IKEA is now immortalising as a pair of LED lights.
Last month the Swedish furniture and housewares giant announced a new line of decorative and functional products created in collaboration with several artists including Daniel Arsham, Humans since 1982, Sabine Marcelis, Stefan Marx, and the Tokyo-based “creative collective” known as Gelchop. The latter turned their attention to the simple tool that IKEA includes with all of its flatpack furniture that ensures anyone — even those without a well-stocked toolbox — can assemble their new furniture.
Most of us have a pile of Allen key wrenches hidden away in a drawer somewhere just in case that particleboard shelf or chair starts to wobble and needs a tune-up, but IKEA and Gelchop instead want the humble Allen key to be a source of decorative accent lighting. This 19-inch lamp is functional only in the sense that when plugged into the wall it will emit a soft glow through energy-efficient LEDs. It can’t be used to assemble giant desks, which is disappointing, but not as much as the $65 accessory not including a power adaptor needed to make it glow.
Gelchop’s Allen key LED flashlight is a more subtle and arguably more functional way to pay tribute to the tool. Available in a shiny metallic blue or chrome finish, the eight-inch long flashlight offers adjustable illumination levels, basic IP44 splash resistance (you’re not going to want to dunk it), and is powered by two AA batteries which are also sold separately but aren’t going to add much to its $40 price tag.