BOHEM armchair 1956.
1956

BOHEM

Armchair
Design Gillis Lundgren
EUR 8.50

The BOHEM armchair was launched in the 1956 IKEA catalogue, and this was also the first time a designer was named. Gillis Lundgren had designed BOHEM using moulded plywood and steel tubing in the construction, quite unusual production and material options in traditional upholstered furniture production. The materials made it possible to experiment with a modern design expression. The frame was made at a mechanical workshop in Älmhult, and the seating unit at a joinery. The parts were then sent to a local upholstered furniture factory which completed the product, all at a very low price.

In the early IKEA catalogues, Ingvar Kamprad himself wrote most of the texts, and he described the BOHEM armchair as “superbly comfortable”. But talking about it many years later, he had changed his mind. Ingvar said “your arms went to sleep after sitting in it a while… it was an odd little armchair!”

LÖVET coffee table 1956.
1956

LÖVET

Coffee table
Design IKEA of Sweden
EUR 4.50

When the LÖVET coffee table was launched in the 1956 IKEA catalogue, Ingvar Kamprad described it as “a lovely little thing, in ultra-modern design”.

LÖVET had jacaranda in the top and brass-covered feet. It could be packed into a small flat pack, or “individually packed in wood wool & cardboard with string” as it was described at the time. LÖVET was, however, not the first self-assembly product in the IKEA range. They were the DELFI, KÖKSA and RIGA tables, launched in 1953.

LÖVET remained in the IKEA catalogue until 1962, and then took a long break until 2013. That was when product developer Glenn Berndtsson was talking to Ingvar Kamprad about going through old documents, what IKEA likes to call ‘the treasure chest’, to see if there were any nice products that could be given new life.

“We knew that a lot of people were interested in these design classics, and felt the time was right to resurrect some of them,” Glenn remembers. A decision was made to recreate several pieces of classic furniture from the 1950s and ’60s, including the iconic LÖVET table. The aim was to produce a table as close to the original as possible, but no one knew where the old drawings were.

Glenn and his colleagues went to the IKEA historical archive and collection and found an original table.

“That way we could establish the right shape, weigh the table and photocopy the legs to prepare for production,” says Glenn.

Another important difference with the reproduced coffee table was that IKEA no longer used jacaranda, a tropical wood species that, today, has to be protected from logging. So Glenn and his colleagues chose more sustainable species.

“They are sawn in a way so they look just like the original. Put the two next to each other and it’s almost impossible to see the difference,” says Glenn.

The new version of LÖVET is called LÖVBACKEN, and was available at selected IKEA stores in 2021.

ESBJERG armchair 1957.
1957

ESBJERG

Armchair
Design Thomas Harlev
EUR 22

The ESBJERG armchair was designed by Danish architect Thomas Harlev, and also came as a two-seater sofa. The idea of working with Danish designers was born in the early 1950s, when traditional furniture retailers in Sweden urged furniture factories to boycott IKEA, whose low prices were seen as a threat. Otherwise the retailers would stop buying from companies that supplied IKEA.

The boycott created a lot of problems for IKEA, but it also forced it to innovate. It was then that Ingvar Kamprad turned to Denmark, a furniture nation. He visited furniture fairs there and made contacts with suppliers. One of the products he found was ESBJERG.

When ESBJERG was launched in the 1957 IKEA catalogue, Thomas Harlev was described as one of a group of Danish architects who could not only design exclusive pieces, but also think economically. “Where architect Harlev has succeeded so well is in combining function with beauty, at an affordable price,” as the text stated.

ESBJERG appeared in the IKEA catalogue until 1964, but was resurrected in the late 2010s as EKENÄSET. Today it is described as a piece of furniture that conveys a stylish retro vibe, inspired by 1950s Scandinavian design.

HANSA bookcase 1957.
1957

HANSA

Bookcase
Design IKEA of Sweden
EUR 5.90

The HANSA bookcase was launched in 1957, and at the time was described in the IKEA catalogue as “cheerful and highly modern, for the joy of all book lovers”. The designer was Gillis Lundgren but the idea came from the Br. Franssons Möbelfabrik, a furniture factory in Rörvik. Franssons was one of the few manufacturers in Sweden still supplying to IKEA, after traditional furniture retailers had threatened to stop buying from companies that still worked with Ingvar Kamprad. His low prices were seen as a threat to the whole industry.

Franssons liked IKEA and Ingvar Kamprad. They liked the fact that IKEA paid on time, and that Ingvar was also interested in their production process. In May 1956, the factory owner wrote in a letter to Ingvar: “Please find enclosed a photo of a piece of furniture we are making. The thing is, we have promised our client not to produce it for anyone else. However, if you could change it to your preferences – it wouldn’t take much, as long as it doesn’t quite look the same – we could produce it for you. Make a sketch, send it over and we will produce a sample.”

Gillis Lundgren was ready with a pencil and soon sent a sketch as requested, and that became the HANSA bookcase.

PEGGY table 1957.
1957

PEGGY

Table
Design IKEA of Sweden
EUR 1.95

PEGGY was launched in the 1957 catalogue as “The little table you can sit on”. Its low height of 41 cm meant it could double up as a stool, which was both sturdy and durable. Moreover, several tables could be stacked on top of each other. Further on in the same catalogue, the table appeared again in a set of three named PLUTO, with the call to “Put me wherever you want!”

The triangular table top was made by Skåne company Perstorp, which in 1950 had launched a new kind of laminated top that had an extremely durable surface.

Ingvar Kamprad wrote about PEGGY and PLUTO himself in the catalogue: “There are few things we would recommend more for your home. … A particularly sturdy and supported design means you can also use PLUTO as a stool. A brilliant idea you should definitely try.”

PRAG sofa 1957.
1957

PRAAG

Sofa
Design IKEA of Sweden
EUR 13

The 1957 IKEA catalogue saw the launch of the simple, stylish PRAAG sofa, 120 cm wide and with no armrests. Ingvar Kamprad proudly wrote: “Wouldn’t you agree that the clean, simple lines of this new sofa lend it that modern cosiness that everyone’s after? An original IKEA design. Look at how smart and well-made the base is.”

PRAAG was made by Spångs Möbel AB in Älmhult and was launched as an “original IKEA design”. It came in black and three other colours, reminiscent of teak, mahogany and jacaranda. Like all the other sofas in the 1957 catalogue, the back side was covered in fabric. As Ingvar was keen to point out, this made it possible to place it anywhere in a room regardless of walls.

While the intention was good, the design was probably a bit ahead of its time. PRAAG only appeared in one IKEA catalogue, and the designer is sadly unknown.

TRINETT floor lamp 1957.
1957

TRINETT

Floor lamp
Design IKEA of Sweden
EUR 4.90

The TRINETT floor lamp was called “a colourful source of joy” when it was launched in the 1957 IKEA catalogue. The cluster floor lamp had one red, one yellow and one green shade on a black foot and felt very modern. Three-headed floor lamps like this were popular in the 1950s.

It was made at Örsjö Armaturfabrik, a lighting factory in Nybro. The fact that the name ended in -ETT was no coincidence; in 1953 there were the LAMPETT and VINJETT lamps, and many IKEA lamps were given names that ended with these three letters.

When IKEA celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2018, an updated version of TRINETT was launched under the name KNÄSJÖ. The modern one was sold for a limited period at IKEA, with white lampshades rather than red, yellow and green like in the 1950s.

ÄGGET armchair 1957.
1957

ÄGGET

Armchair
Design Gillis Lundgren
EUR 6.90

The ÄGGET armchair was not designer Gillis Lundgren’s first experiment with moulded plywood and steel tubing – that was BOHEM, which Ingvar Kamprad described as “an odd little armchair”. Gillis succeeded far better with ÄGGET. It was comfier, sturdier and more modern looking. And the innovative production and material combination made it very reasonably priced.

Customers could buy ÄGGET with woollen fabric in a colour of their choice, combined with a grey woollen seat. The 1957 catalogue offered the colours red, yellow and ‘ice green’, among others. The frame was made at a mechanical workshop in Älmhult, and the seating unit at a joinery in Diö. These were then sent to the Rune Ring upholstery factory in Älmhult which completed the product.

BÅSTAD rug 1958.
1958

BÅSTAD

Rug
Design Gillis Lundgren
EUR 14.50

The Axminster rug BÅSTAD was designed by Gillis Lundgren. It is an example of the then ongoing effort to make wool rugs of modern design, rather than making imitations of Persian rugs, for example.

Ingvar Kamprad was very interested in rugs, and early on he learned a lot about their history and production. He understood the benefit of selling sofas, armchairs, lamps and rugs together. In the catalogues, rugs were described as “comfort-creators for young people”, and they became important home furnishing products. They went from covering two pages in the 1952 IKEA catalogue to fifteen in 1962. So in ten years, Ingvar had made IKEA a rug dealer with a wide, unique range.

When BÅSTAD was launched in the 1958 IKEA catalogue, Gillis Lundgren had already designed two other rugs: TIMGLAS and PRISMA. BÅSTAD was described as a “bargain for the discerning rug customer”. It was produced mechanically at a factory called Firth & Sons at Clifton Mill in Yorkshire, England, which helped to keep the price down. Large volumes were required for IKEA to make rugs of in-house design in that kind of factory, but by then IKEA was selling so many rugs that it wasn’t a problem.

CUBA floor lamp 1958.
1958

CUBA

Floor lamp
Design IKEA of Sweden
EUR 3.90

On its launch in 1958, the CUBA floor lamp was described as “Somewhat exotic – for the otherwise slightly formal room, this new floor lamp is sure to add an atmosphere of warmer climes. The light is filtered beautifully through the wicker wound shade, which is supported by three black-lacquered legs.”

Nothing like CUBA had ever been seen in the IKEA range. But this somewhat different lamp was not made in the tropics, but far further north at the Armaturverken Croma AB lighting factory in Malmö.

KLOCKETT floor lamp 1958.
1958

KLOCKETT

Floor lamp
Design IKEA of Sweden
EUR 2.50

The modern KLOCKETT floor lamp stood steady thanks to its steel tube and heavy metal foot painted with black frost lacquer. It was a clear example of how IKEA had expanded its range from what in 1950 was called “stylish lighting”, such as traditional crystal chandeliers.

Unlike the modern way, with in-house IKEA designers, KLOCKETT and other lamps in the 1958 catalogue were by designers who worked for lighting factories. KLOCKETT was probably designed by Eric Wernå and made at his factory, Ewå Armaturer, in Värnamo. However, the catalogue stated: “Many of the modern designs of lighting are original models only available from IKEA”.

During the 1950s, it became increasingly important for IKEA to be able to offer lighting for the home. The 1951 IKEA catalogue had five pages of lighting, while in 1958 when KLOCKETT was launched, there were seven pages.

KOKETT floor lamp 1958.
1958

KOKETT

Floor lamp
Design IKEA of Sweden
EUR 5.90

Both KOKETT and its similar-looking cousin KLOCKETT are good examples of modern, functional floor lamps that IKEA sold in 1958. KOKETT was probably designed by Eric Wernå and made at his factory, Ewå Armaturer, in Värnamo. KOKETT had a steel tube and a heavy metal foot. The cylindrical shade was split in two, one half copper coloured and the other in black frost lacquer.

REGAL bookshelf 1958.
1958

REGAL

Bookshelf
Design Gillis Lundgren
EUR 4.60

One of designer Gillis Lundgren’s earliest works for IKEA was the REGAL shelving unit. Here’s how it was described in the 1958 IKEA catalogue: “An IKEA idea for all book-lovers. A self-assembly bookcase, ingenious in structure and easy to put together.”

REGAL had three sturdy shelves, lacquered blue, with book-ends, or handles, at the top. According to the 1958 IKEA catalogue, REGAL was “an obvious choice in any modern interior”.

CAVELLI armchair 1959.
1959

CAVELLI

Armchair
Design Bengt Ruda
EUR 27

When CAVELLI, designed by Bengt Ruda, was launched in the 1959 IKEA catalogue, Ingvar Kamprad wrote: “A confident designer has given this piece a bold construction. … CAVELLI will get noticed in your home – and indeed admired. … No expense has been spared and no stone left unturned to make CAVELLI an aristocrat of the 1960s.”

It was unusual for Ingvar to say “no expense has been spared”, bearing in mind how he and IKEA normally steered clear of high costs. Aristocrats were few and far between in 1960s Småland, and CAVELLI turned out to be no different. Älmhults Möbelstoppning, the company that made it, apparently only ever made five.

When Bengt Ruda joined IKEA in 1957, he was the first qualified designer to be employed. He had designed furniture for Stockholm department store NK in the late 1940s and early 1950s. With his background, he had an important part to play, especially when IKEA started moving towards flat packs.

More than 50 years later, designer Wiebke Braasch was inspired by CAVELLI in her work on the IKEA PS 2012 collection. This led to a metal outdoor chair, the IKEA PS 2012 easy chair. Wiebke pared down everything that could be regarded as unnecessary. What was left was the basic shape – a piece that looks like it could have been the frame for CAVELLI.

TEA trolley 1959.
1959

TEA

Trolley
Design Bengt Ruda
EUR 9.50

The tea trolley aptly named TEA was just right for 1959, when many were looking for a convenient serving trolley they could wheel from the kitchen into the living room and dining room.

Ingvar Kamprad on TEA in the 1959 catalogue: “The exclusive tea table. A new creation by Bengt Ruda that will win many friends. The well-made solid oak frame, the beautiful teak trays, the prominent solid oak edges and the sturdy wheels for crossing thresholds – all these features make the self-assembly TEA trolley an attractive and practical surface that fits in nicely in any modern home.”

TEA was made by Håkanssons Eftr. of Braås.

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