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One of the Best Parts of Ikea Is About to Become Extinct

It's not the worst thing to happen in 2020, but it's still sad.

ikea catalogs
Ikea Museum

It's a coffee table book, a coaster and a door stop. It is the Ikea print catalog. And whether you requested one or not, you've undoubtedly come across the bible of cheap homewares and furniture before.

After 70 years, the Swedish furniture megastore announced Monday it would no longer be publishing its annual catalog. Ikea will instead focus on its digital offerings like its website and apps. Consumers' shift towards online drove over four billion visits to its website and a 45-percent increase in worldwide online retail sales last year, both of which played into the decision to axe the publication.

"We have been transforming many aspects of how to reach and interact with our customers," Konrad Grüss, an Ikea executive, says. "And the work continues to find new ways to amplify unique Ikea home furnishing knowledge, products and solutions in the best possible way — to inspire the many people through new ways, channels and format."

ikea catalog
The first issue of the Ikea catalog, put together by Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad, came out in 1951, featuring the MK wing chair.
Ikea Museum

Since 1951, the catalog – first compiled by Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad himself — has acted as a road map for those trying to navigate their way around interior design. The catalog has been a way to announce new product offerings and to offer design inspiration around some of the most iconic Ikea pieces. Public reaction to the news was swift, with fans of the catalog taking to Ikea's social media to voice their disappointment.

ikea catalog 1981
The cover of Ikea’s 1983 catalog.
Ikea Museum
ikea 2018 catalog
The cover of Ikea’s 2018 catalog.
ikea 1965 catalog
A cover of Ikea’s 1965 catalog.
Ikea Museum

The Ikea catalog first launched online in 2000, and at its peak in 2016, 200 million copies of the catalog were distributed in 69 versions, to over 50 markets in 32 languages. According to the BBC documentary, "Flatpack Empire," the Ikea catalog out-printed the Bible and the Quran, making it the largest publication in the world.

ikea 1981 catalog
The 1981 cover of the Ikea catalog featured a grid layout of products — older gentleman not included.
Ikea Museum

This year's catalog, which came out in October, will serve as the final edition of the print catalog that we all remember. Every issue of the catalog lives online at the Ikea museum, and in fall 2021, Ikea will release a tribute book to commemorate the book's legacy.

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