Ikea catalogue celebrates Swedish diversity

Flat-pack furniture giant Ikea launched its new catalogue on Thursday amid much coverage in the Swedish national press.

Each August, the arrival of the new Ikea catalogue is eagerly awaited in Sweden, and has become something of a national event. The catalogue is printed 198 million times and published all over the world, but Swedes really look forward to what must be one of the country’s most well-thumbed publications.

This year’s the catalogue’s theme is diversity – ‘mångfald’ – with Ikea claiming to offer even more living and interior solutions for the diverse way we live today.

In a press statement, Jeanette Söderberg, CEO for Ikea Sweden explained the thought behind the new catalogue’s diversity message.

“We are all different. We have different lifestyles, different tastes and different living situations. The diversity around us today isn’t just good, it is fantastic, giving more creativity and new points of view regarding our existence”, she said.

One could say that Ikea embodies today’s Swedish diversity – and conformity. The company’s employees in Sweden alone speak 44 different languages. At the same time, there is hardly a Swede in Sweden who does not own furniture from Ikea.

Despite Ikea’s increased investment in their online services, the catalogue is still part of the company’s marketing backbone. This year’s catalogue focuses a lot on living rooms, and according to Ikea’s recent investigation into Swedish lifestyles, Swedes’ living rooms make up a quarter of their total living area.

The survey of over 1,000 people showed that Swedes are likely to fall asleep in their three-seater brown sofa, twice a week on average. The average living room in Sweden is 27 square metres and has six pictures on the walls, usually landscapes.

67 percent of Swedes have wallpaper on the walls and 19 percent tend to lose the TV remote control under their sofa cushions. A bit like most TV-watching nationalities.

Ikea has 17 stores in Sweden that are visited by 30 million people annually. At present there are 9,500 products for sale at Ikea. This year’s catalogue includes around 3,500 of those products, of which about 1,000 are completely new.

However, Ikea has produced twice as many sofa upholstery covers this year so you don’t have to commit to a new sofa if you are sick of the old one. Just buy some new upholstery and change the look for a while.

According to Ikea trend reports, people don’t want to make a big commitment when they furnish and decorate their homes. People plan for the next five years now, not for life.

But it seems as though Ikea has been around for much longer than most young people’s lifetime. In October, Ikea’s first store will turn 50. The Älmhult store, in Sweden, was the first to open its doors to customers in 1958. Customers could experience a range of home furnishings in person and the flat pack concept meant that the goods could be easily transported home.

Today, there are over 285 Ikea stores worldwide displaying a range of home furnishing solutions to meet the different budgets of different people.