For the past 70 years, designers and home enthusiasts alike have flipped through the IKEA catalog pages to discover trends, drool over gorgeously styled rooms and find new favorite products. But (grab your tissues) this yearly tradition is coming to an end: IKEA announced Monday that the 2021 catalog published in October will sadly be the last.
The “emotional but rational” decision comes as part of IKEA’s larger shift to platforms the company says are more accessible and focused on digital. According to a press release, the catalog, despite its iconic status, has been used less and less as customer behavior and media consumption continue to be veering toward digital. Last year, IKEA.com received more than 4 billion visits and online sales increased by 45 percent.
“Turning the page with our beloved catalog is in fact a natural process since media consumption and customer behaviors have changed,” Konrad Grüss, managing director of Inter IKEA Systems B.V. said in the press release. “In order to reach and interact with the many people, we will keep inspiring with our home furnishing solutions in a new way.”
How People Are Reacting to the News
While this news may make sense from a digital-first business perspective, it doesn’t make it any less of a shock for longtime catalog devotees.
Jennifer Bhagia-Lewis said via Facebook messenger that she’s read the IKEA catalog for the past decade and has saved all her copies for the past five or six years. She said the announcement left her feeling “really disappointed,” because the catalog served as her source for finding new and unexpected ways to use items in her home.
“I love being able to revisit the pages when I’m feeling stuck in my home or trying to creatively problem-solve,” Bhagia-Lewis said. “There’s always some small idea hidden in plain sight that just takes me out of a rut.”
Kimberly Nixon is another longtime reader. She said via Facebook messenger that she’s read the catalog for the past 15 years, and flipping through the pages with her children and husband has become a sort of family tradition.
For Nixon, seeing the products set up in a cohesive space provides an irreplaceable visual experience, especially if you can’t go to a store to see the furniture in person. She says the experience just isn’t the same on IKEA’s website.
“[The catalog ending is] sad and frustrating,” Nixon said. “It was a fun tradition enjoyed by my kids and myself … and the website has been less helpful through the years, so the catalog was always our go-to.”
A Brief History of the IKEA Catalog
IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad launched the catalog in 1951, eight years after the business began operating. What started as a 68-page book with a distribution of 285,000 copies throughout Sweden ultimately became a worldwide sensation. During the catalog’s peak year in 2016, 200 million copies were distributed in 32 languages to more than 50 markets.
The catalog has also been published digitally since 2001, but that platform is also going by the wayside. And while no specific plans have been announced for what the company will produce in its place (come on, give us something!), the press release hints at “new formats and ways to distribute the content of the IKEA catalog.”
“We are not starting from scratch,” Grüss said in the press release. “We have been transforming many aspects of how to reach and interact with our customer, 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 formats.”
Special Book Coming in 2021
OK, now take a deep breath. While we’re not-so-patiently waiting to learn exactly what will replace our beloved glossy pages, there’s still a reason print-lovers should be excited: as a tribute to the publication’s 70-year history, IKEA will release a book filled with home furnishing inspiration and knowledge in the fall of 2021. So mark your calendars.