Hold on to your copies. This is the last IKEA catalog.

The IKEA catalog. What can I say? It’s an annual event here at IKEAhackers — where I excitedly flip through the 200+ pages and pick out my new favourites or try to spot hacks in them.

But all that has come to an end.

Today, IKEA announced that they are pulling the plug on their famous 70 year old catalog. The 2021 catalog will be the last of its kind. It’s going the way of the dodo.

“Turning the page with our beloved catalog is in fact a natural process since media consumption and customer behaviors have changed. In order to reach and interact with the many people, we will keep inspiring with our home furnishing solutions in new ways,” says Konrad Grüss, Managing Director, Inter IKEA Systems B.V. ​in a press release.

Emotional but rational decision

With changing consumer behaviour, moving from paper to digital, the IKEA catalog has been less used. Leading to this “emotional but rational decision” to end the career of the IKEA catalog, both the print and digital versions.

Needless to say, IKEA fans are not taking the news well. On the IKEA US Facebook page, Tracy says, “The catalog is essential for planning and WAY better than the website! I looked forward to mine each year. This makes me sad…”

Natalie adds, “It has always been something positive to look forward to each year. Apart from the practical ideas and beautiful things in the catalog, it has been like a manual of sorts for us to reference throughout the year. The pictures of the different rooms with clever ideas were almost a respite for us to imagine how a home could be like. Sure, those were just material and physical things, but the inspiration was real nonetheless. In a year like this, I particularly yearned for the normalcy and escape begotten in the catalog, as silly as it may sound. It is now yet another part of life that must become a memory only, and nothing more. This is a loss – of traditions, value at a personal level, and a certain extent of hopefulness. I am heartbroken.”

A well-loved catalog

I’m sad too, though I understand the reasons to reduce paper and change with consumer consumption.

I’ve enjoyed reviewing every new issue.

Watch literary critic Hellmuth Karasek review the 2016 issue, which was the peak of the catalog. 200 million copies of the IKEA Catalog 2016 were distributed in 69 different versions, 32 languages and to more than 50 markets.

With the end of the catalog, IKEA hints at moving towards new exciting tools to help people plan their needs and dreams at home. From what I can see from the comments, the IKEA website falls short in providing the IKEA escape and inspiration. And use of the IKEA Place app is spotty.

70 years of history

You may not have known that IKEA started as a mail order company. Ingvar Kamprad, a mere teenager then, sent out a catalog called IKEA-Nytt, selling small items like pens, watches and belts. He started adding furniture eventually and in 1951, he printed 285,000 copies of what would be known as the first IKEA catalog. The cover featured the MK wing chair in brown upholstery, later reintroduced as the STRANDMON.

The debut of the IKEA catalog

All is not lost. IKEA has digitized its entire 70 years of catalog history in an online library. You can browse every issue, even though I know it’s just not the same as a “bookbook”.

I will miss the iconic IKEA catalog.

Last ikea catalog 2021

But in the famous words of Ingvar Kamprad, I take heart that “Most things still remain to be done. A glorious future!”

I look forward to what IKEA has in store for us.

Jules Yap