The Ikea Transformer

Who’d guess that a cushion can be turned into a garment?

By Mao Shan Wang

I know Ikea is not the same to everyone. Some people see it as a furniture store, many a place for Swedish meatballs and cheap coffee, even more to let their kids run wild, and a few the spot to nap in full public view. I, however, find Ikea to be quite a fashion store, even if you don’t immediately see it. Yep, they sell T-shirts—occasionally—and bags, not just those popular Frakta carriers that Balenciaga made even more famous. Ikea’s fashion cred is, in my eyes, raised considerably when I recently encountered this cushion named Lånespelare (I’ll be the first to admit I can’t pronounce that!). Much to my delight, this humble-looking cushion can be transformed into what Ikea calls the “onesie”. And, yes, that means you can wear it.

The cushion, at first look, is like any oblong ones in east-west orientation. The more imaginative among us may see it as a makura (the pillow) of an obi. In fact, if you squeeze it, you are not wrong; it does feel like the makura. The Lånespelare is not filled like a conventional cushion. Rather, the 100% cotton shell has a thin polyester layer inside, which makes it feel like Uniqlo’s ultra-light puffer vest. How does it get its cushion-y bulk? Under the hood, if you will, is the garment itself that when folded, gives it the body. When extricated from the simple form, you get a sleeved tunic with funnel neck!

Truth be told I was too shy to try it on. In any case, this is not something I need when the weather here will never call for its use. But, I figure this may really be handy if you are heading for, say, Japan. It’s a practical flight companion—perfect as a pillow (your own is better than what the airline hands out) for lumbar support and when it gets cold, it can be unfolded and used as a blanket. If all you need is a hand warmer, the cushion’s decorative top layer comes with pockets too. When you depart the airport of your destination (Tokyo?), you’ll also have an outer to keep you warm. You don’t need to carry a coat or dig into your luggage to unearth a sweater. Really neat. But I am not sure if it’s easy to fold the whole thing back to its nifty original shape. Maybe it’s best to keep it as a cushion. Afterall, I do like Bumblebee Transformer (in the animated series) as a Volkswagen Beetle.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Ikea Lånespelare, $49.90, is available at IKEA stores. Product photos: Ikea. Illustration: Just So

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