The Scandinavian style furniture...
Scandinavian politics, cultures,languages and traditions led to the emergence of a multifaceted design philosophy in the early 1900's. By the end of mid century, these designs came to be known as a "style" from this region. In the meanwhile, the post depression era (late 1920's, 1930's-early 40's) saw the Swedish urban middle class (in Stockholm) looking at quality of life in a whole new way. Market for clean "Scandinavian" looking furniture gained significant foothold at this very point in design history. Furniture and fixtures were slowly becoming a matter of utility rather than a luxury. Progressive thoughts and living conditions meant increased demand for furniture and home decor accessories. This was when IKEA began more as a cultural movement to provide quality affordable designs to all in the society.
In the year 1943, Ingar Kamprad, an enthusiastic 17 year old, began selling pens, nylon socks at low prices, door to door. (hmm this reminds me of a few other business magnets who started out this way - Gita Pramal's Business Maharajas!). He formed IKEA - adding first initials of his family’s farm (Elmtaryd) and his village (Agunnaryd) to his own initials. As the business grew, he started mail order services. Steady growth led to his foray into the then booming furniture production business in 1948.
Tracking IKEA's growth...
IKEA published it first catalog in 1951 while it was still a mail order company. First ever IKEA showroom was opened in Alhmult, Sweden, in 1953. Here is a picture of its first catalog and the subsequent ones. (Ooh! I love the retro looking picture.)
The year 1958 as a major milestone for IKEA when a 6700 Sq mts furniture superstore opened in Almhult, the largest in Scandinavia at that time. By the year 1960, new homes mushrooming across Sweden, and an increased demand for inexpensive furniture, contributed to IKEA's growth with in Sweden and then throughout Scandinavia. Another picture of the catalog from 1966.
You must have guessed by now that I am among those ardent IKEA Fans. I just love the sweet cinnamon aroma which welcomes you as you enter the store. The only IKEA store I have been to is the one in Atlanta. IKEA has a large fan base and an equally strong critique population.This company has come a long way from where it began in a small town in Sweden.
Critiques claim that IKEA "knocks off" a lot of American Modern design ideas from the Eames era. Given the Scandinavian design history and the fact that IKEA is native to Sweden. The whole claim is baseless because, it was not until the late 1950 that the Americas were introduced to this clean line design. I rest my case! :)
Things I like and I dont...
For mid century modern enthusiasts like me, IKEA brings in clean Danish and Scandinavian style furniture with in reach of an average middle class home. IKEA has always had a low-price version of every danish modern furniture model. One such piece I own is the Poang Chair. I was glad to now that the chair was designed even before I was born and was launched in 1976. It is still a popular customer pick, that speaks for itself. Here's the picture of my Poang and footstool.
Until next time...take care and keep those creative juices flowing
IKEA vintage catalogs (print)