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Ikea Man

In 2014, I left my home country due to the devastating war that had torn it apart and found a second home in Sweden after working in multiple countries across the MENA region. My budget was almost drained from the long days of the war, but my superior wife and I were determined to kickstart a new life together, armed with big dreams. We moved into a tiny house, a mere 13 square meters, but it was the beacon of hope we needed.

During those initial days in Sweden, Ikea became our go-to furniture store. There, I first encountered the tiny figure known as the “Ikea man” that you often see in their installation manuals. One night, I saw this little figure sitting on our countertop. I couldn’t help but imagine what it would be like if this small character came to life as different cartoon characters. I spent a few hours playing around with it, posted it on Behance, a platform for sharing creative, and went to sleep.

Little did I know that this silly act would become a story to tell. When I woke up, I was greeted by a flood of notifications—tens of tags on social media and news articles from all across the globe. They were all describing the idea as something to notice. Ikea themselves shared my work on their social media accounts in different countries. It went viral.

The momentum continued to build, and my work was eventually selected to get featured in a few art books, magazines and to be selected as part of an exhibit at the Ikea Museum in Älmhult for a period of time. That was when my career kicked off in Sweden a decade ago.

he image is a collage of various website and article headers related to the "IKEA Man", a simple line-drawn character typically seen in IKEA's assembly instruction manuals. The collage includes: Top left: A snapshot of the IKEA USA Twitter profile, displaying tweets, following, and follower counts. Top middle: An illustration of two characters, one is the IKEA Man, and the other is a rendition of the IKEA Man styled as a popular yellow cartoon character wearing a blue collar and tie. Top right: A CNET article titled "For inspiration, this graphic designer turned to...IKEA?" which discusses a graphic designer named Sedki Alimam's project involving the IKEA Man. Middle: A Designboom article header stating "Iconic IKEA Man Creatively Reimagined As Popular Cartoon Characters" by Wan Munirah, dated November 12, 2014. Bottom left: A screenshot from the Fubiz website with a title "IKEA Man Turned into Pop-Culture Characters". Bottom right: Another article header, this time from a website named "Les", discussing the IKEA character as a star. The overall theme of the collage is to highlight the cultural impact and creative reinterpretation of the IKEA Man by Sedki Alimam and media outlets.

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