Why Ikea decided to let kids design its soft toys

With Ikea’s annual soft toy drawing contest as popular as ever, CR speaks to Bodil Fritjofsson about how they’re making dreams come true one soft toy at a time

As a child, the idea that your drawings might come to life was something reserved for just your imagination, but in 2014 Ikea decided to make it reality by creating real-life toys from drawings submitted from children all over the world. 

The initiative originally started in 2003 and the campaign was called Soft Toys for Education. It saw Ikea partner with Unicef and Save the Children and for every soft toy or children’s book bought, the Ikea Foundation would donate one euro to children’s education projects. In 2014, the initiative was made bigger and now goes by the name of Let’s Play for Change. As well as publishing reports and research on play and creativity, it also includes the now famous soft toy drawing competition in which children’s drawings are turned into soft toys to become part of the annual Sagoskatt collection.

Rainbow Kid, Sagoskatt Collection, 2019

“We saw the opportunity to inspire children to be more creative…. We also wanted to take opportunities to co-create with our customers,” says Bodil Fritjofsson, one of Ikea’s team leaders and children’s product developers. “We thought it was a good idea to invite children to explore their creativity and give them a chance to make their dream come true – to make a drawing into a real soft toy to cuddle with.”