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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

IKEA, a visual history

French magazine Marie Claire Maison received an invitation to tour IKEA's semi-secret museum located in the basement of the company's headquarters in Almhult, Sweden. IKEA started in 1943 when founder Ingvar Kamprad began selling odds and ends from his garden shed. In the late 1950s, Kamprad switched to selling furniture to take advantage of Sweden's "Million Homes" project, a government initiative designed to alleviate the post World War II housing shortage. And a retailing legend was born...

The first flat-pack, which saves IKEA in transport and storage costs, came about in 1956 when an employee took the legs off a table to fit it into a customer's car.

Individual rooms take you through decades of clean practical Scandinavian design. Each is set up as a living room showcasing furniture, accessories, and artwork.

The 1950s saw the dark wood and chintz of the previous decade swept aside for the pared-down aesthetic popularized by Nordic designers like Finland's Alvar Aalto and Denmark's Arne Jacobsen.

Designs of the 1960s reflected an Italian influence with pop brights and slick finishes.

A play of natural materials and layered patterns defined the 1970s.

The 1980s were all about the mix, hard-edged contemporary meets turn-of-the-century Thonet.

The 1990s ushered in white slipcovers, pale blond woods, and the ubiquitous phalaenopsis orchid. The needs of the home office were addressed for the first time.

With the dawn of the new millennium came a renewed interest in handcrafts as seen in IKEA's vase series collaboration with Dutch designer Hella Jongerius. IKEA's creative team is prognosticating bold colors, more varied looks in textile design, and a return to the "country" look.

[Marie Claire Maison]

11 comments:

Leigh said...

How fascinating! I love the Ikea-fied trip trough the decades.

karly / design-crisis.com said...

Fascinating! I'm not going to be quizzed on this though, am I?

Alexis said...

That's really cool! I would love to go there!

Yana said...

wow, that's fantastic! I love history, remembering where we have evolved from. So enjoyed this post!

nkp said...

What a great post, Raina. I loved seeing Ikea through the decades.

susieq said...

That was fun!

please sir said...

Wow that is so neat to see - we just got an IKEA and I can't wait to visit - gatta wait till the crowds die down.

erin@designcrisis said...

It was all going so well until the 90s...

Paul Pincus said...

fascinating post! i think they are about to collaborate with hella jongerius again?!

Raina said...

Thanks, Paul. And welcome to this deliciousness!

hmstrjam said...

loving the return to the "country" look, minus those pots wtf? but like the colorful modern rocking chairs