After a disjointed 1980s, IKEA had lost control of its range and had been close to losing its foothold and its identity. The stock exchange crash of 1987 led to a global economic crisis and was a turning-point – also for the world of design. Glass tables and colourful geometric patterns had to move aside. It was the early 1990s, and minimalism was making a comeback. British, Japanese and Italian designers started creating restrained design in light woods – something that was seen as typically Scandinavian. IKEA was surrounded by a design world that was successfully interpreting Scandinavian aesthetics.
IKEA PS collection
Scandinavia makes a comeback.
In the early 1990s, IKEA began a process to strengthen its identity as a design company. IKEA wanted to get back to its roots and manifest the aesthetic of Scandinavian simplicity. The result was IKEA PS, a recurring collection of innovative design at low prices.
“Shouldn’t you at IKEA be there too, among blond woods and simplicity?” The question was asked by Stefan Ytterborn, a Stockholm-based design entrepreneur, in a discussion with IKEA head of design at the time, Lennart Ekmark. After all, the company’s design roots came from the Swedish and Scandinavian style, so Stefan thought IKEA should reclaim some of its origins. Their discussion developed into a collaboration, where they worked with a group of designers to create a collection inspired by the Scandinavian style. But the aesthetic also had to meet the demands on production adaptation, necessary for IKEA to achieve a low price.
A Scandinavian addendum
Eighteen young Scandinavian designers created a collection with a strong, simple profile that would follow in the Scandinavian design tradition. It was called IKEA PS, as it was a kind of post script or addendum to the standard range. At the 1995 furniture fair in Milan, IKEA PS was presented under the theme of Democratic Design. The term summarised the company’s ambition to create products of good design and function, at low prices.
The first IKEA PS collection was very well received. New collections have since returned regularly. Over the years, both Swedish and internationalhave contributed products under different themes. The common denominator for all the collections has been to develop Scandinavian design and make good design available to the many people.
See examples in the slide shows, from the first IKEA PS collection in 1995 to the latest one from 2017.