The KLIPPAN sofa is a real classic. Since it was first presented in the 1980 IKEA catalogue, it has continued to turn up in new guises every year. That’s because KLIPPAN is not only an unusually durable sofa in a classic design. With its removable cover, it’s also very easy to change its appearance. Over the years, IKEA has offered hundreds of different covers for KLIPPAN, from the discreet to the highly imaginative. And as if that wasn’t enough, IKEA has also sold patterns so that handy customers could make their own cover from a fabric of their choice.
The story of KLIPPAN started at the home of Lars Engman, who was product developer for IKEA sofas and armchairs at the time. He had received two, as he put it, “Italian and terribly expensive sofas” to try out. As a product developer, Lars also had to look at competitors’ products to see how they worked, all in the interests of providing good design and function at a lower price. The expensive design sofas looked good, but in just a few months Lars’s six-year-old daughter and her friends had managed to ruin them by jumping on them. This got Lars wondering whether it was possible to make a good, child-proof sofa with a low price: “Surely it would be possible to create a reasonably priced sofa, one that’s child-friendly – which basically means bounce-friendly – without hard edges? And ideally with a removable cover.”
Lars Engman started from a sofa that Japanese designer Noboru Nakamura had designed for IKEA. LAPPMON had a pine underframe, castors, and a patchwork leather cover nailed to the frame. It was quite a sophisticated design that had not sold very well. Lars had worked with Noboru many times, and simply asked him if he could use his frame. The answer was yes, and a new sofa was soon born. In the design process, everything that was unnecessary was removed, giving KLIPPAN its clean, natural look. At the same time, a big chunk of the cost was removed as well.
To make a removable cover, the size of the sofa had to be adapted to the width of fabric reels at the time, which were 150 cm. That way the cover could not only be taken off, but would also fit inside a household washing machine. IKEA had sold removable covers before, but only on larger sofas and the covers had to be dry cleaned. And that cost a lot of money. With KLIPPAN, for the first time the sofa cover could be washed or replaced often.
KLIPPAN was launched in 1980, but it took a while for customers to realise how magnificent it was. This could be because in the early days, only covers with quite advanced patterns were available. But as more and more different covers came along, its popularity rose. KLIPPAN evolved into a sofa that suited both homes and public environments. In 2021 it has classic status, and is still an important part of the IKEA range.