‘Life at home: Ikea + Annie Leibovitz’ delves into the beauty of our private spheres

By Billie Miro Breskin

'Yusuke Onimaru, Fukuoka, Japan'. Photo: © Annie Leibovitz. From IKEA Artist in Residence: Annie Leibovitz

The renowned photographer’s new body of work will be on display at the Ikea Museum from 1st June

Over the last decade, Ikea has been gathering data. It’s polled a quarter of a million people, spread across 40 countries. But the information the brand is after isn’t about the sales of its furniture. Instead, Ikea attempted to capture something much more intangible: the way we feel about our homes. Their findings, published in the Life at Home Report 2023, measured everything from how many of us need complete darkness to sleep well (28 per cent) to what percentage of people consider their home to be their favourite place to be (52 per cent). One finding inspired the Ikea team to build something new; the report found that almost half of respondents felt their life at home isn’t regularly shown in the media.


In response to this finding, Ikea created its Artist in Residence program, a project that, in its first iteration, would be centred around representing ‘regular’ home life. The artist chosen for the residency was Annie Leibovitz, the acclaimed photographer who has built a career photographing rock stars, actors, and heads of state for magazines like Rolling Stone and Vogue. These photographs, including many with elaborate sets and clothes worth thousands of euros, are beautiful and hold a special place in history. But they also do not represent – nor do they claim to … the everyday life that Life at Home Report respondents felt was lacking in the media.

'Maria Arrechea with friends, Mayuko Nicolaysen, Pau and Leno, Berlin, Germany'. Photo: © Annie Leibovitz. From IKEA Artist in Residence: Annie Leibovitz.

It’s only fitting, then, that Leibovitz, a figure so ingrained in the make-up of media imagery in the 21st century, should be the one to turn her camera towards the realities of the home. After being offered the project in 2023, Leibovitz travelled to seven countries, exploring what it means to be at home and, by extension, what a family can look like. The resulting 25 images each capture the unique qualities of their subjects. Whether it's a group of several families in a commune or a man who transformed his apartment into a garden, there is a distinct sense of raw authenticity in each frame.

'Self Portrait'. Photo: © Annie Leibovitz. From IKEA Artist in Residence: Annie Leibovitz

The photographs were first presented in Paris during fashion week in February of this year, and now are coming to the Ikea Museum in Älmhult, Sweden. Joining Leibovitz’s images are photographs composed by six mentees who worked under Leibovitz’s guidance as they engaged with the same theme. This commitment to championing the next generation of artists speaks to Ikea’s mission of cultivating, reflecting, and elevating community. Born out of a desire to respond to people’s wants and needs based on the Life at Home Report, the first Ikea Artist in Residence program has not only fulfilled its goal, but also has left us with a collection of images that truly reflect who we are.

Life at home: Ikea + Annie Leibovitz will open at the Ikea Museum in Älmhult, Sweden on June first. At the opening, a conversation will be held between Marcus Engman, the Creative Director at Ikea Retail, mentee participant Trâm Nguyen Quang, and Ikea Museum curator Mats Nilsson, moderated by creative project manager Sara Bertram Böss.