Sun, Wind, Earth, and Water

IKEA Corporation/ Tempe Store, Tempe, Arizona
6’ x 3’ x 2’ for each bench
Clay tile and mosaic (glass, stone, clay)


Four handmade functional mosaic benches were designed by Glen with Helwig and Banko for the green space area in the front of the IKEA Tempe store. The mosaics were inspired by the land and culture of Sweden and also reveal a shared appreciation for nature and quality craftsmanship. The artistry of the benches speaks to many of the ideals behind IKEA. The mosaic benches are a beautiful blending of form and function; have clean lines, yet retain a special handmade quality to them; emphasize the company colors yellow and blue; and are covered with details that joyfully celebrates life.

Ikea4CN_580   Ikea10CN

The importance of the four classic life elements (earth, wind, fire, water) is the unifying theme, and each bench is a whimsical exploration of each element. For example, the wind bench depicts birds, sailboats, water, plants, and blueberries. The water bench shows water, fish, water drops, and leaves. The earth bench is filled with flora and fauna imagery. And the fire/sun bench includes the sun, birds, wind patterns, and strawberries. Other details include patterns of birds in wind, strawberries growing in the sun, rocks in earth, and leaves. The artists made hundreds of tiles in different shapes for these benches.


This commission was first publicized as a call to local public artists. Once selected, Glen and Helwig presented their proposal at several public meetings for approval. To aid with the production, drawings were scanned and then photo-shopped to determine size of the clay pieces. Additionally, the artists used pre-cast benches (all the same shape) with minor surface flaws that could easily be covered by mosaics


IKEA worked with the Art-in–Private Development / One-Percent for the Arts Project, for the City of Tempe to make this project possible.