Ikea, the world’s largest furniture retailer, is known for many things: Umlaut-laden product names, budget-friendly flat pack, Swedish meatballs, to name a few. But collectable, heirloom-quality pieces? Nej.
But despite its rep for disintegrating particleboard, Ikea’s older pieces are becoming a hot new trend at auctions around the world, according to a new report from online auction hub Barnebys. And the midcentury designs aren’t cheap—a pair of rare Clam chairs designed for Ikea by Philip Arctander in 1944 are selling for up to £50,000 ($65,000) each at auctions.
Apparently Ikea’s earliest designs used high-quality materials and construction techniques that helped pieces survive the decades. But even flimsier ’90s classics like the MDF-made Vilbert chairs by Verner Panton can command thousands of dollars from nostalgic buyers.
"Our records show that there is a huge demand, greater than ever before, for vintage IKEA furniture," Barnebys co-founder Pontus Silfverstolpe told The Sun. "There has been a big boom within the last year that has been felt in markets all across the world." Ikea itself seemed clued in on the trend when it brought back a limited edition of greatest hits from the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s a few years ago.
Silfverstolpe also told House Beautiful UK that “when a new generation becomes financially established and begins to trade at an auction, they usually start to buy what they saw around them when growing up.”
"We saw it clearly around the turn of the century when the Scandinavian design from the 1950s and ’60s became incredibly popular, and now it's increasingly 1970s and ’90s,” he said.