I. Love. Ikea. I love wandering around their vignettes. I love their Swedish meatballs. And I even love how it takes hours to buy even the smallest thing there. So every year I look forward to their catalog because it’s always so inspiring. This year, however…I find the catalog underwhelming.
I did my usual routine the day the catalog arrived: I settled onto the couch and spent a few hours reading it cover to cover. The first few pages were disappointing but I assumed it would get better. But the deeper I went it just continued to be a parade of disappointment.
I was going to keep my disappointment to myself but then I started seeing blog posts gushing over this year’s catalog. I mean what are they seeing that I’m not?! Have I lost my mind, have bloggers lost their mind or has Ikea? So I’m turning to you to help me answer this question.
I think I’ve identified why this year’s catalog sucks a**: they tried making it more like a magazine rather than a catalog.
First, in years past after the pretty pictures showing the “real life” vignettes (e.g. the happy mixed race family cooking in a kitchen, the hunky dad shaving in the bathroom as his adorable nordic child looks on, etc.), they’d have a few pages showing the pieces against a white backdrop in that section along with their dimensions (e.g. all their couches, all of their kitchen cabinet styles, all of their bathroom vanities, etc.).
This year they did away with those pages. This means you have to try looking beyond the models and mood lighting to see the pieces. I like looking at good looking people as much as the next person but I also want to see the furniture.
Second, they devoted approximately 40 pages out of 112 to “Feature” articles. These articles are about some of their designers, their philanthropic work and cultural shifts in the way people are living. Here are some of the titles: “When the Sofa is the Home”, “Unlocking opportunities for kids through play” and “The Thing About Quality: an interview with Jan Ahlsen.” Who’s Jan Ahlsen and why do I care? Ikea, why is Jan more important than seeing all of the kitchen cabinet profiles you’re carrying this year on two easy to find pages?
And finally, this year with very few exceptions their new pieces just aren’t that cool or the colors aren’t my cup of tea. A lot of their new pieces are components you buy to configure to your needs. I know this is the bedrock of Ikea design but this year the individual components are designed to keep their individuality. The beauty of Ikea’s components has always been that you could configure them to your particular needs but the end result was that it would look like it was one big, expensive looking piece.
Here’s a little sampling of what I’m talking about:
As I mentioned there were a few exceptions and there are some pieces that are brilliant. Here are a couple:
Sektion/Kalvia cabinet door front
If you haven’t already, you should check out the catalog HERE. The online version is slightly different from the one mailed to me but you’ll still get the idea.
Let me know what you think.