The Real Reason You Won't See IKEA Catalogs Anymore

If you, like many of us, pick up copies of IKEA's iconic catalogs regularly to take home and dream big dreams about how you might your interiors to be done up one day, we have a bit of bad news. After 70 years, IKEA has decided it would no longer publish its iconic catalog which, for many of us, has been as much a part of the IKEA experience as enjoying its famed Swedish meatballs.

"For both customers and co-workers, the IKEA Catalog is a publication that brings a lot of emotions, memories and joy," Konrad Gruss, managing director of Inter IKEA Systems B.V. and IKEA's worldwide franchiser says (via NPR). And while, as Gruss says, the catalog "has been one of our most unique and iconic products, which has inspired billions of people across the world," that no longer seems to be the case as more and more customers shift to digital. In the end, the company called its decision to pull the plug on the catalog "emotional but rational."

IKEA didn't make the decision to abandon the catalog lightly

IKEA's first catalogue was the brainchild of company founder Ingvar Kamprad who, in 1951, decided to publish a 68 page booklet to show off his products. The first catalog had a print run of 285 thousand copies and was primarily distributed in the southern part of Sweden where Kamprad and his company were based. Today's catalog is a far cry from Kamprad's original 68-page booklet. It now comes at a hefty 300 pages introducing no less than 12,000 products. It takes IKEA a year to produce each and every edition and in 2012, it employed 285 people from designers and photographers to interior designers. IKEA's lookbook reached the height of its popularity in 2016, when the furnishing giant published 40 million copies of the iconic catalog in 32 languages, and which it was distributed in 50 countries (via Forbes).

IKEA's decision to abandon a tradition and go paperless was not made lightly. The Guardian reports online trade skyrocketed 45 percent last year, because customers are now able to design their homes with IKEA furniture and accessories digitally, with a bit of help from augmented reality. 

But before you rush out to the nearest IKEA to make sure you don't miss the last catalogue, the store says you've still got a bit of time left. Forbes reports that in the company will be publishing a commemorative catalog with photos of past editions in 2022, bringing a furniture storybook to a finish.