The LACK side table is an IKEA classic that has come out in countless colours over the years. It has gradually grown into a whole series of shelves, TV benches and table nests. But say LACK, and most people think of the original square table, 55×55 cm. And this was also where the most fun colours could be found.
Vivianne Sjölin was the range coordinator at IKEA in those days. She thought that IKEA had too many big, heavy tables made of wood, metal and glass. Vivianne wanted to see nice, little, colourful tables that were easy to place with flexible use, and that customers might buy on impulse – almost like a souvenir.
She talked to Jan Hellzén, who was responsible for coffee tables at IKEA. Jan and his colleague Tomas Paulsson, who was in charge of dining tables, had just been to the furniture fair in Milan together. Tomas remembers: “Janne and I took a walk along Milan’s ‘fashion street’ and happened to see a little table in a window. We were impressed by the design. It was perhaps 50 by 50 centimetres, maybe ten centimetres thick and the legs were ten centimetres thick as well, very sturdy. So Janne and I said that we didn’t have a table like that in our range, one that you could put anywhere.”
Back home in Älmhult, Jan Hellzén made a sketch and had the model workshop make a trial version made out of particleboard. The table turned out very heavy. A few days later, Jan and Tomas were in the samples room talking about tables when Ingvar Kamprad stopped by, pointed at the table and said: “That’s a damn fine table, what’s the price?” So Tomas and Jan improvised a price of 298 kronor (EUR 29.80).
Ingvar’s reply: “Hell no! Make it out of board-on-frame [sandwich construction], and it can’t cost more than 75 kronor!”
Tomas was familiar with board-on-frame. He had developed big table tops made out of it. They were called BRA and were produced by a factory that made interior doors. So Jan visited the factory, and product development began in earnest.
Once the construction was finalised, it was left to Vivianne Sjölin to choose the colour. She remembers: “I have some of the first samples that Jan made at home. I said they should come in various colours as well.”
On 18 May 1979, the table came into the range in white and another four colours. The price was 78 kronor (EUR 7.80).
“Everyone who saw it warmed to it immediately and thought it was the best product of the year!” remembers Jan. LACK was launched in the 1981 catalogue, by which time the price had gone up to 89 kronor (EUR 8.90). Everyone was happy – apart from Ingvar, who thought the table was far too expensive.
In 2021 you can still buy the LACK table at IKEA, and at a lower price than the original. Ever cost-conscious, Ingvar Kamprad would probably have been happy with that.