Life at home

By a blue patterned wall, a woman sits knitting in a white two-seater sofa with a high back, surrounded by tall bookcases.
By a blue patterned wall, a woman sits knitting in a white two-seater sofa with a high back, surrounded by tall bookcases.
Image from IKEA catalogue 1972.

In the progressive 1970s, the IKEA range becomes increasingly youthful. Colourful fabrics, bold shapes and practical solutions for a life on the move are hallmarks of the decade’s first years.

The first years of the 1970s are dominated by modern products in plastic and lacquered particleboard. Inspiration comes largely from Italian design and American popular culture. Particleboard furniture that people can make their own mark on, sofas with practical removable covers, fun wall posters, storage shelves and seat cushions are typical IKEA products of the time.

A woman and a man in bed under a white patterned green duvet, in a bedroom also completely white and green.
Denim-covered TAJT cushions, folded out as divans and spread out on the floor in a yellow-carpeted room.
A woman in a low KRUMELUR armchair, which is textile over a metal frame. In profile, the chair forms an asymmetric M shape.
A light room with a small-dot pattern on the walls, cork flooring, blue and white striped bed linen, and blue details and textiles.
Denim covers, wall-to-wall carpets and trendy furniture characterise the relaxed 1970s interiors. Practical, non-iron duvet covers make everyday life easier, ideally with broad, colourful patterns in the spirit of the times. Images from IKEA catalogues: 1. 1979 2. 1973 3. 1972 4. 1979.

In the 1970s, many people see IKEA as quite a radical company that’s developing in line with the times. Designers and interior designers are given more freedom. The aim is to offer a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices as low as possible.

Spread out in a large room are large-pattern seat cushions and modular furniture with frames of particleboard, from the POKUS collection.
In 1970, students at the University College of Arts, Crafts and Design in Stockholm were given free rein to produce a collection of floor cushions and flexible modular furniture from particleboard. Some of it was lacquered in bright colours, while customers could paint some pieces themselves. A playful initiative that gave IKEA a lot of new ideas. Image from IKEA catalogue 1971.

The stores present progressive innovations like a self-serve warehouse, where customers load flat packs onto their trolleys, gigantic ball pits for the children, and a dedicated department for children’s furnishings. There are also new departments for home furnishing items, and above all more whole room interiors where customers can get a sense of how their new furniture could work in their own home. Every room is now represented, from the kitchen and bedroom to the garage and children’s room.

A fully carpeted room with details in beige-brown. Light wooden furniture, including adjustable armchairs, model KONTIKI.
A living room where a man in a cushion armchair and a woman in a black sofa drink coffee either side of a low coffee table.
A kitchen with cork pattern flooring, brown cabinet doors, white cooker and dishwasher, checked white wallpaper, and wooden dining table and chairs.
The casual and sometimes adventurous lifestyle that emerges during the 1970s calls for robust, low-cost furniture that’s easy to move and combine in different ways. Storage shelves, photoflood lamps and durable, washable fabrics facilitate a creative life of change and movement. Alongside bright colours, brown is a dominant colour. Furniture in knotty pine is an eco-friendly alternative to plastic. Images from IKEA catalogues: 1. 1974 2. 1971 3. 1973.

As people generally become better off, criticism against the over-abundant society grows. The 1973 oil crisis highlights the need for greater environmental awareness, while plastic becomes more expensive. At IKEA, the modernist plastic furniture of the Pop age is now replaced by rustic pine. Ingvar Kamprad’s decision that IKEA should also use knotty pine to make furniture is an appropriate authentic aspect of the rustic furniture that replaces the former, shiny modernist products. The pine style also suits the new Green Movement, when many young people move to the country or to well-planned apartments in the suburbs, where there is room to be together and be creative. The do-it-yourself spirit thrives. People are no longer reluctant to put together an IVAR shelf from IKEA. And everything is child friendly.

A children’s room with two children drawing at a long, yellow desk. Yellow wall bars mounted on a wall patterned with Sandman character John Blund.
A woman sits at a changing table with a baby, in a yellow room with a cot, toys and two children playing nearby.
A red swivel chair is at a light-green combination of children’s desk and storage furniture. Dark blue wall, grey needle felt rug.
Children’s and young people’s rooms explode with colour and inventiveness in the 1970s. Play furniture, bunk beds, open storage, smart bed drawers and other new solutions facilitate a creative, playful life – and sleepovers are easy with an extra mattress. The textiles are bold with colourful, often playful patterns. Images from IKEA catalogues: 1. 1974 2. 1973 3. 1971.