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Back to the future: The evolution of Ikea’s most iconic furniture

How many of these historic Ikea covers do you remember? Photo: Ikea
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If you’ve ever had to furnish a home, redecorate, or if you’re just big fan of meatballs, chances are you’ve been lost in the labyrinth that is Ikea.

With more than 400 stores globally, most of us have daydreamed our way through the iconic catalogues (and struggled our way through a flatpack bookshelf or bedside table).

Now, in honour of the 70th anniversary of the Ikea catalogue, the Swedish furniture giant has decided to take a stroll down memory lane.

But when reminiscing and revisiting these retro classics, don’t be surprised if you see some familiar items.

Some of Ikea’s most well-known pieces have popped back up after long absences, and some have never left.

The MK wing chair, for example, featured on the front cover of the very first catalogue in 1951 and again in 1961.

Ikea Sweden cover in 1951. Photo: Ikea

More than 60 years later, it resurfaced as the STRANDOM chair on the 2013, 2014 and 2018 covers.

Ikea Australia cover 2013. Photo: Ikea
Ikea Australia cover 2018. Photo: Ikea

Those with an eye for interior decoration will know that the 70s are coming back in a big way.

Modern takes on velvet couches, wood panelling and floating staircases can transform any space into nostalgic dreamland.

The 1971 cover, in all its golden, groovy, 70s glory, featured a cream coloured shag carpet that you wouldn’t believe could stand the test of time.

Ikea Sweden cover 1971. Photo: Ikea

But the early 2000s saw a shag revival, and the retro rug graced the 2004 cover once again.

Long live the shag!

Ikea Australia cover 2004. Photo: Ikea

Other items, like the BILLY bookcase, which ‘hit shelves’ more than 40 years ago, have never left.

The POÄNG armchair is one of Ikea’s oldest and most popular products, and has barely changed at all since it was released more than four decades ago.

And while we probably aren’t likely to see the return of waterbeds, linoleum floors or lava lamps anytime soon (but who really knows), looking back at some of the old covers might give us an indication of what’s to come.

Ikea Sweden cover 1966. Photo: Ikea
Ikea Sweden cover 1969. Photo: Ikea
Ikea Sweden cover 1974. Photo: Ikea
Ikea Sweden cover 1981. Photo: Ikea
Ikea Sweden 1985 cover. Photo: Ikea
Ikea Sweden cover 1991. Photo: Ikea
Ikea Sweden cover 2000. Photo: Ikea
Ikea Australia cover 2006. Photo: Ikea

Furniture of the future

The 2021 catalogue has undergone some remodelling itself, and this year will act as a how-to guide for those looking to add to their humble abode.

Given the pandemic has turned most of the world into glorified shut-ins, this edition will focus on hands-on ideas and problem-solving tips for the home.

Christine Gough, Ikea Australia’s country home furnishing and retail design manager, said the team were focused on sustainability and using small spaces.

“Life at home has never been more important as it is today,” Ms Gough said.

“As we all spend more time at home, our spaces are working harder than ever before.”

“For many of us, the reality of life at home means spaces and budgets that are shrinking in size. That’s why we’ve focused the solutions in this year’s catalogue on affordability and small space living.”