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8 stunning designs you’ll never believe are from Ikea

A one-time-only vintage sale highlights the company’s boldest designs.

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Okay, some Ikea furniture is built to last.

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Case in point: A new sale of Ikea furniture that showcases some of the brand’s boldest designs over the past five decades. In fact, if you didn’t know better, you’d never peg these items as coming from the Swedish company.

Artist Harry Stayt started collecting Ikea products five years ago, sourcing from all over, including markets, auctions, and “strange corners of the internet I never knew existed before.” On Thursday, he’s putting that collection up for sale, in an online event aptly named Billy (yes, after that bookshelf). Stayt’s collection of over 50 pieces of furniture and more than 50 Ikea catalogs will be available to purchase. Prices range from about $65 to $900. (While Stayt is based in the U.K., he can ship internationally.)

 

Ikea 1979 catalog [Photo: courtesy Billy]
Stayt’s collection includes some very special collaborations: Designs like a large, abstract red sculpture by Tony Almen and Peter Gest, Verner Panton’s color-blocked Vilbert chair, and the Ted Net chair by Niels Gammelgaard. These all might seem anathema to the designs Ikea is known for today, which are signature to the understated Scandinavian design aesthetic. In stark contrast, Stayt’s colorful late ’80s and early ’90s pieces are anything but subdued; they’re supercharged.

RIGG coat stand & PLAGG Childrens coat stand, both designed by Tord Bjorklund [Photo: courtesy Billy]
And sure, Ikea has collaborated with outside artists in recent memory—for instance, Tom Dixon, Hay, and Virgil Abloh. But those partnerships fit more closely within the streamlined functionality we expect from Ikea, which has always focused on well-designed, straightforward, and inexpensive offerings. Stayt describes the pieces up for auction in this sale as “Ikea’s boldest designs.”

But perhaps that’s why these designs were relegated to the past. An aim of the collection, according to Stayt, is to celebrate classic collaborations with prolific designers such as Panton and Gammelgaard and bring attention to those “bold” pieces—which were discontinued after poor performance on shop floors. 2020s Ikea whispers. 1980s Ikea shouts.

About the author

Lilly Smith is an associate editor of Co.Design. She was previously the editor of Design Observer, and a contributing writer to AIGA Eye on Design.

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