Most of us are familiar with the cheap, chic Scandi staples IKEA is renowned for. We’ve all walked anti-clockwise through a spiral of flat-pack bookshelves and printed textiles, dreaming of a life more compact and colour-coordinated than our own. IKEA taught the world the rakish appeal of a trailing spider plant in a hanging basket paired with a bold statement curtain, but its lesser-known origin story adds a humble charm to its token aesthetics.
The company was founded in 1943 by 17-year-old Ingvar Kamprad: the iconic blue and yellow logo is an acronym composed of his initials paired with the first letter of Elmtaryd, the name of the farm where he grew up, and Aggunaryd, his Swedish hometown. Kamprad’s eye for business developed in childhood, when he began bulk-ordering matches from Stockholm and peddling them to his neighbours by bicycle. He thought up IKEA at his Uncle Ernst’s kitchen table, a mail-order business which grew steadily into today’s warehouse empire.
With graphics and imagery created by its in-house communications team, the annual IKEA catalogue offers a glossy escape into a world of solid wood and primary colours, and this incredible collection of covers, lovingly archived on Pinterest, charts the the furniture giant’s rise to domination. 1950s minimalism gives way to a leggy flower child reclining on an emerald chair, while a garish 80s sofa betrays the sartorial sensibilities of the decade. From kitschy florals to cloud-shaped rugs, these covers inspire nostalgia for bygone furniture trends, and provide us with leafy ambitions for cosy city living.