White chair in Gustavian style with black and white chequered seat cushion, HALLUNDA.
IKEA of Sweden/Swedish National Heritage Board
EUR 199

The HALLUNDA dining chair was part of the renowned 18th century collection which IKEA launched in 1993. Inspiration was taken from a group of Gustavian chairs at Gripsholm Castle, which in turn was inspired by a chair King Gustav III had seen in the French King’s dining hall at the Palace of Versailles.

Castles, kings and Gustavian chairs were perhaps not what people associated with IKEA at the time. But the Gustavian collection does have a special story, which began at the listed Medevi Brunn spa outside Motala, where a collection of unique 18th century furniture was in danger of being sold off. Sweden’s National Antiquarian at the time, Margareta Biörnstad, turned to IKEA for financial help in preserving the furniture. She eventually came into contact with Ingvar Kamprad. Over lunch, they reached a business agreement between IKEA and the Swedish National Heritage Board.

True to form, Ingvar never did anything that didn’t pay in some way. Along with head of design Lennart Ekmark, he decided that an 18th century collection would be good for the upcoming 50-year anniversary of IKEA. The Swedish National Heritage Board made Lars Sjöberg, curator at Nationalmuseum in Stockholm, into a collaborator. He was tasked with finding the right originals for the collection. Medevi Brunn would receive about 8,500 euros for every Swedish 18th century model that was taken into the range.

A series of carefully copied Swedish 18th century furniture was developed. The Heritage Board placed high demands on quality and faithfulness to the Swedish tradition of craftsmanship. But IKEA also stuck to its principles of low prices and certain adaptations to industrial production. The reproductions were carefully checked by the meticulous curator Sjöberg before they were given the Swedish National Heritage Board’s seal of approval.

In June 1993, the collection was presented at Råshult outside Älmhult, birthplace of the famous botanist, Linnaeus. A special brochure was produced, Swedish 18th century at IKEA, which included the HALLUNDA chair. The name came from the Hallunda estate in Botkyrka parish, where chairs of this kind had been in the main building’s dining room since the late 18th century.