Escape from Reality Via 70 Years’ Worth of IKEA Catalogues

Escape from Reality Via 70 Years’ Worth of IKEA Catalogues
Image: Inter IKEA Systems B.V.

If you’ve found yourself with a few days off for the holidays, and have already caught up on all your shows and your brain is open to looking at things, but not reading reading, we have a suggestion we think you might enjoy. Yes, it’s 70 years’ worth of IKEA catalogues.

If that alone isn’t enough to convince you that this is an ideal way to mentally escape from your couch in 2020 to a stylish home in mid-century Sweden, there are other reasons to get excited about this treasure trove.

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Most furniture that you get from IKEA needs to be assembled with your own two hands. Which can mean you feel a sense of accomplishment in addition to getting a new piece of furniture. Try focusing on buying or making stuff yourself to build more satisfaction with your life.

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For example, if you enjoy scrolling through Instagram accounts like Cheap Old Houses or Vintage Bathroom Love, you’ve probably run out of new posts by now. Think of the catalogues as another way to learn about decor and furniture from the second half of the 20th century. (And to learn more about the catalogue collection, read this article from CityLab.)

Or maybe you’re getting ready to do some remodelling or redecorating of your own, as long as you’ll be stuck at home (again). Well, look no further for some design inspiration. But, unlike actual websites, you can flip through most of these without running the risk of getting a little too enthusiastic and buying much more than you can actually afford. Now that you’re on board, here’s how you can access the back catalogue of IKEA catalogues.

How to access old IKEA catalogues

To feast your eyes on 19,000 pages of design history, just visit the IKEA Museum’s website. Swedish is the default language, so you may want to switch it over to English. Then again, it only translates the text on the website — not in the catalogues themselves — so it’s not really necessary. From there, browse to your heart’s content.

Top tip: While the catalogues from the 1950s are definitely interesting, their format is more like early Sears catalogues, where the pages contained listings of different products. The more modern version — featuring entire rooms of furniture and other decor — starts in the 1960s. (The image above is from the 1973 catalogue).

How To Not Get Fooled By IKEA’s Mind Games

Sometimes walking through IKEA feels as though you’re in a maze where the walls are built from eye-catching organisational units. You both can’t and don’t want to leave. This isn’t an accident — IKEA is trapping you on purpose.

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Click on the cover of the catalogue you’d like to flip through, and then click it again once the page loads. That will open a new window with options to help you navigate the Scandinavian design trends of that particular year. Enjoy!

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