When IKEA furniture becomes a collector’s item: the 15 most wanted vintage pieces

Can an IKEA chair cost thousands of euros? Yes, if the designer was Verner Panton and the furniture has become extremely sought-after by vintage collectors.

We all know that IKEA's main objective is to make furniture accessible to everyone. In recent years there has been a proliferation of signature collections that allow a wide public to own pieces signed, for example, by Virgil Abloh or Sabine Marcelis: this is the democratisation of luxury, which we discussed in a recent article, investigating the difficult marriage between mass production and art-design (or collectible design).

An increasingly popular trend lately sees the situation reversed: furniture designed for the masses, and originally available at popular prices, now reaches astronomical costs in (online) vintage furniture markets. On numerous e-commerce sites, you can buy IKEA furniture that has increased in value a hundredfold over time, sometimes costing more than 5000 euros.

Cover of the 1985 IKEA catalogue, with the Moment sofa, designed by Niels Gammelgaard, in the foreground

“The most popular vintage Ikea pieces are from the 1980s and 1990s. I think this is because Ikea in this era began to define itself as a brand aimed at a youthful, urban and contemporary audience. The silhouettes are fun, eye-catching and colourful, even while maintaining a rather minimalist quality,” said Wava Carpenter, founder of e-commerce Pamono and the newest director of Design Miami, to The Guardian.

“There’s a rising market for 1960s Ikea furniture, which often looked like midcentury modern Scandinavia. It’s a bit less distinctive in terms of the brand identity, but it’s also pretty rare to find these days.”

To investigate this trend, we took a tour of the major vintage furniture e-commerce websites and selected the 15 pieces of IKEA furniture that are most sought after and coveted by collectors. In our search, we also came across the Instagram page @billy.forsale: a collection of vintage IKEA furniture, which held its first auction dedicated to the Swedish brand in November 2020.

In our selection you won't find the world-famous Billy bookcase, sold in millions worldwide and therefore anything but rare, but there are also some pieces of furniture designed by the same author: Gillis Lundgen.

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