With a frame of layer-glued bent wood veneer, POEM was an armchair in the same Scandinavian vein as the furniture of ground-breaking designers Bruno Mathsson and Alvar Aalto. But it commanded a far lower price.
POEM was designed by Japanese designer Noboru Nakamura. Lars Engman, who later became head of design at IKEA, talked about how it came about: “It was 1975, and I had just started working on easy chairs and armchairs at IKEA. In the designers’ room, Noboru Nakamura was sitting in the corner looking a bit abandoned. So I went up to him and said maybe we should make an armchair.”
By then, Noboru Nakamura had been living in Sweden for a couple of years, and was familiar with the Scandinavian design heritage. Together, he and Lars Engman starting working on an armchair that was intended to be like Mathsson’s and Aalto’s in terms of style. But of course, the price had to be lower. The solution was to order the wooden parts, the cushions and the seating units from different factories, to keep the price as low as possible. Therefore, POEM was also packaged and sold in three parcels.
The armchair was launched in 1976. It became an immediate sales success, and a long-term faithful product. It stayed in the range as POEM right up until 1991. And in 1992 its successor was launched: POÄNG, a modernised version where the 15-year-old design had been updated to give even better value for money. It is still sold at IKEA in 2021.