About the IKEA catalogues

FAQ – the digital IKEA catalogues.

The IKEA catalogue is finally online, but why did it take 70 years?
Good question! A lot of people are curious about what the IKEA catalogue has looked like through the ages. And just as the IKEA catalogue is celebrating its 70th birthday, we are done digitising them and making them available to everybody. Making the story of IKEA available to everyone is our main task here at IKEA Museum. So although it has taken quite a while, we hope that the catalogues will arouse a little nostalgia, joy, and maybe even some surprises.

Has the idea of home changed?
It certainly has! Look in the somewhat older catalogues and you’ll be amazed at what people’s homes were like. In fact they may even raise a giggle or two. The IKEA catalogue has always reflected the times and people’ attitudes towards everyday living, especially in Sweden. As you’ll see, in the 1950s and ’60s there were very few people in the pictures, and hardly ever any children. In the 1970s, however, we see children playing and adults smoking, and even the odd political poster on the wall. Scroll through to the 1980s and the trend has changed, with everything nice and shiny, while in the ’90s the homes are more pared down and distinctly Scandinavian. The furnishings in the IKEA catalogues become a kind of time capsule for you to travel through. And who knows, when we one day look back at the 2020s, there’ll be a sense of nostalgia but they’ll probably make us cringe as well.

Why are only the Swedish IKEA catalogues available?
We decided to start with the Swedish catalogue as it has been around the longest. However, in future we may well feature other countries’ catalogues as well.

Are all IKEA products shown in the catalogues?
No, in fact they never have been. The IKEA catalogue has always shown a selection of what’s available in our stores. The catalogues from the 1970s and onwards show around 30–50 per cent of the entire range. The ones that are not featured are generally smaller products in textiles, decorations and lighting. Temporary collections are rarely included either. But the farther back you go, the higher a percentage of the range can be found in the catalogue.

Is there more information available about the IKEA products in the catalogues?
Yes, there is. But unfortunately, the older a product is, the harder it is to find information about it. If you have a specific question about a product, we’re happy to help you out if we can. But 70 years is a long time, so we can’t promise anything. While you’re waiting for our response you can always browse through the catalogues – the product texts that are there are quite detailed.

Why are you showing ikéa-nytt? That’s not an IKEA catalogue, is it?
Well, not really. But we’ve included it to show how IKEA started as a mail order company that didn’t only sell furniture. Before the catalogue came along, the range was presented in a small mail order brochure called ikéa-nytt (literally ikéa news). It was distributed as a supplement with agricultural weekly Jordbrukarnas Föreningsblad. Until early autumn 1948, the range was mainly comprised of pens, watches, electric razors, wallets and bags. But starting later that same autumn, furniture was included as well. In the 1950 ikéa-nytt, as many as six of the 18 pages featured furniture. And when you look at catalogue -51, you’ll see that there are no more pens and wallets. Ingvar Kamprad was now truly focusing on home furnishing, and shelving the rest.

Does IKEA Museum have any physical copies for people to browse through?
Yes and no. We do have a few copies of each year’s catalogue in our archives, which we’re saving for the future. And because they should be handled as little as possible, we’ve made the catalogues available digitally, both online and on monitors at IKEA Museum, which you can browse through.

Can I share the pictures in the catalogue?
Absolutely! Feel free to share a maximum of 30 pictures far and wide, as long as it’s not for commercial purposes. When publishing, please include the following information and add the correct year of the publication you are sharing. Thanks!

‘© Inter IKEA Systems B.V.’ plus the year of publication.

Can I download and share the online catalogue PDFs?
Yes you can, but you are only allowed to share three complete online catalogues. You are not allowed to distribute the online catalogues for commercial purposes. When publishing, please include the following information and add the correct year of the publication you are sharing. Thanks!

‘© Inter IKEA Systems B.V.’ plus the year of publication.

Do you have any press releases or press images?
Yes! You can find all press materials in the IKEA Museum press room.

Is IKEA Museum interested in receiving/buying more copies of old catalogues?
At the moment we have a good stock of catalogues in all languages. Having said that, please contact us if you’ve been collecting them for several decades, or if you have any other archive material you think might be of interest.

Does IKEA Museum have old assembly instructions?
Unfortunately not. We sometimes wish we did, as we handle quite a lot of old products that need putting together and taking apart.

We hope this has answered most of your questions!

IKEA Museum