The IKEA Catalog is Dead. Long Live the IKEA Catalog.
Consider our Swedish-furniture-loving hearts broken.
We tend to be annoyed by the wasteful catalogs that arrive in droves around the holidays—but one that always brought joy to our hearts was the humble IKEA Catalog. (Well, perhaps “hulking” is a better adjective, given the publication’s heft.)
The company has announced that after seven decades—following an “emotional but rational decision”—the publication is coming to an end.
As for the Swedish furniture purveyor’s corporate reasoning, the lines are familiar—IKEA has become increasingly digital, and the catalog has less and less of a place in the modern world. Interestingly, IKEA is also nixing the digital version of the catalog, as well.
“For both customers and co-workers, the IKEA Catalog is a publication that brings a lot of emotions, memories and joy,” Inter IKEA Systems B.V. Managing Director Konrad Grüss said in a release. “For 70 years it has been one of our most unique and iconic products, which has inspired billions of people across the world. Turning the page with our beloved catalog is in fact a natural process, since media consumption and customer behaviors have changed.”
IKEA hints at new channels and formats to interact with its products in the future—and in the announcement, also noted that in Fall 2021, the company intends to publish a book “filled with great home furnishing inspiration and knowledge.”
As for key milestones and facts surrounding the catalog, IKEA cites the following:
“1951: [IKEA founder] Ingvar Kamprad himself put together the first IKEA Catalog, and the very first catalog cover featured the MK wing chair in brown upholstery. 285,000 copies were printed and distributed in southern Sweden.
“1998: First catalog ‘IKEA at office’ available on [the] internet, which was a special edition only showing furniture for business/offices. The ambition this year was to present the whole catalog online, but due to the complexity with IT systems, the launch was postponed.
“2000: Launch of both a printed and digital version of the IKEA Catalog.
“2001: E-commerce is launched for the first time in IKEA history in Sweden and Denmark.
“2016: At its peak year, 200 million copies of the IKEA Catalog were distributed in 69 different versions, 32 languages and to more than 50 markets.
One upside to all this: We always have the archives. As we detailed back in September, the full archive of the IKEA catalog is available online, and it is brilliant design escapism.
Here are a few of our favorite archival covers. For more, head to this post.