Don´t Throw Your IKEA Furniture Away, It Might Pay For Your Summer Holiday!

Don´t Throw Your IKEA Furniture Away, It Might Pay For Your Summer Holiday!

IKEA classics are making top prices at auction says Barnebys the art auction search engine. 

The fact that IKEA has produced several classics over the years is news to the art collecting world. But several IKEA designs are sold today at auction for prices that far exceed their original modest purchase price according to Barnebys the leading art search engine that tracks art market trends.

Barnebys host 2,000 auction houses on their site and offer some 1m objects for sale each day, directing art collectors to the appropriate auction house.

The most expensive of the Ikea furniture sold at auction is the furniture group “Åke“. Åke was manufactured in 1952-1956 and included sofas and armchairs.

The so-called ‘Mushroom’ or ‘Clam’ Chair has become one of the world’s hottest decorative items. The chair has astonished the collecting world by climbing in value by thousands of pounds at auctions worldwide over the past few years. The chairs have been sold at international fine art and design fairs for £50,000, even if the seller certainly didn´t know it was IKEA, but was the original piece by the Danish architect Philip Arctander designed 1944.

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 ‘Clam’ chair £50,000!

 Today keen-eyed collectors search out Ikea items as this once modest furniture is commanding some astonishing prices at auction. Among the most sought after is furniture like “Åke” and “Vilbert” which commands prices that are ten times higher that when these items were launched.


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Teak book shelves and cabinet £3,000

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Vibert chairs by Panton £700 a chair and rising

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Sideboard table £2,275

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Chairs by Eric Wörtz £1,500

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Ceramic terrine ‘Nejlika’ £1,180

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Amiral Steel & leather chairs by Karin Mobring £875

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Chair Fåtöljen ”Q56”, okänd formgivare £875

Barnebys co-founder, Pontus Silfverstolpe, forecasts the next big thing at IKEA: “Currently more and more people are watching IKEA’s production from the 1970s to 1990s. 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. Personally, I think Ikea’s PS series will be in demand in the future. Thomas Sandell’s agency from the 1990s with good and timely design is already a classic.”

The IKEA flop that became a success

The founder of IKEA, Invar Kamprad, early on showed a keen understanding of the benefits of collaborating with leading designers like Verner Panton, Niels Gammelgaard, Thomas Sandell and recently Ilse Crawford, whose designs are highly sought after in the auction market.

One of the most famous collaborations was with the Danish designer Verner Panton, whose signature consists of his colorful and imaginatively shaped furniture. In the 1990s, Verner Panton lived next door to Ikea’s design manager Gillis Lundgren, which led to the design of the ‘Vilbert’ chair by Panton. The angular and color-laden chair was sold in 1993, for £60 but was not a big success. However, today, it is sold for upwards £700 at auction.

The reason for this price rise is the result of a well-known designer and a small production run. The chair was taken out of production early due to poor sales figures, says Pontus Silfverstolpe, founder of Barneby’s.

In 2006, Ikea launched its Art Event series where artists like Ernst Billgren, Jan Håfström and Denise Grünstein created limited edition screen prints. Ernst Billgren’s motif ‘Premiär’ was sold originally for £147 this year made £1,125 at Swedish auction house Bukowski.

Ikea has always managed to be right in its timing. When the UN announced an international childhood year in 1979, IKEA decided to invest everything in nursery furnishing.  And when the design boom came in the 90s for IKEA was at the major furniture fair in Milan to launch its ‘PS’ collection. The theme was ‘democratic design’, with a focus on Scandinavian design and sustainability.  Famous  Swedish architect and designer Thomas Sandell was among the designers featured and the designs took off.

Over the years, IKEA has been quick to copy and release trendy collections of renowned designers who, by color, shape and material choice, appeal to a wide audience. Today, there are few Swedes who do not own an item from IKEA.

Ironically the most expensive IKEA auction items today are almost always IKEA’s flops, which were quickly discontinued due to lack of sales figures or expensive production costs, says Pontus Silfverstolpe.

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