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Get Lost in 70 Years of Old IKEA Catalogs

The Swedish furniture giant dropped its catalog archives online, letting shoppers browse 19,000 pages of midcentury Scandinavian design. 

A typical scene from a 1970 IKEA catalog. 

Photo: Inter IKEA Systems B.V. 

As millions of people around the world become intimately familiar with their home decor, the Swedish furniture giant IKEA is offering an online resource to fuel your redecoration reveries: In honor of the the 70th anniversary of the company’s first catalog, IKEA just dropped digital versions of every catalog on its museum website. If your idea of a good time is wandering the labyrinth of your local IKEA showroom, trying out sectionals in a pretend living room, this digital trove of modular furniture makes an excellent and Covid-safe alternative distraction — and a fascinating time capsule of Scandinavian design trends. 

As of 2019, IKEA boasts 433 stores across 53 countries, inundating markets around the globe with its distinctive brand of affordable build-it-yourself products. The company has been around since 1943, when founder Ingvar Kamprad launched it as a mail-order business selling matches, postcards and pencils in the Smaland region of Sweden. But 1951 marked the first proper IKEA catalog, says IKEA Museum archive and collections manager Per-Olof Svensson. On its cover: the iconic MK wing chair. It was discontinued a few years later, but made a retro comeback in the 2013 and 2014 catalogs as STRANDMON.