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So, now it goes IKEA > Beatles > Jesus?
July 15, 2010 6:22 AM   Subscribe

"These are sample layouts from a fullsize reproduction of the entire 2007 IKEA catalogue, leaving only color and structure. With an estimated 175 million copies distributed in 2006, the IKEA catalogue is thought to have surpassed the Bible as the most published print-work in the world."

Lots more interesting work by artist Jason Salavon.
posted by Miko (62 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Will the website fall apart after a couple of years?
posted by i_cola at 6:27 AM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


To surpass the Bible as the most published print-work in the world, it would have to be more than a single year. The Bible has been in print ever since we could print. I don't think IKEA can top that.
posted by sunshinesky at 6:29 AM on July 15, 2010


I'll take a beige square for the bedroom, a maroon one for the living room.. and oh, one of those little dark blue ones for the bathroom. Yeah some of the stuff is kinda cheap in build quality, but I've had my green square for 5 years now!
posted by pyrex at 6:31 AM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Straight and narrow
posted by DU at 6:33 AM on July 15, 2010


And on the fifth day the Lord said you will buy a FJÖOBJARVIK
posted by mcstayinskool at 6:35 AM on July 15, 2010 [12 favorites]


Let's see, 2.5 billion bibles since 1815, and now IKEA is outpublishing them by 75-125 million per year, so it will take 20-33 years or so for them to completely overtake bibles. I can see them lasting that long, since anyone who buys their furniture has to replace it every couple of years. (But I still love my new EXPEDIT bookcases)
posted by bashos_frog at 6:43 AM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


DU, what's with the image? I don't get it. It looks like the floorplan of one floor of an IKEA store.
posted by bjrn at 6:44 AM on July 15, 2010


Love the idea, love the Noami Klein approved theme. But he should have put this principle to work on the bible. Just to show us what a bleak and boring book it is.
posted by ouke at 6:51 AM on July 15, 2010


The Bible has been in print ever since we could print.

That depends on what you mean by "we" and "print." If you mean "Western Europeans" and "print using movable type," you are more or less correct (although it will also depend on what you mean by "in print," but let's gloss over that). If you go outside of Europe or include woodblocks, there was a lot of other stuff before Bibles.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:53 AM on July 15, 2010


I got a CB2 catalog in the mail the other day, and was really surprised by how the dominant color in the room photos was gray. Almost every painted wall was gray, with muted color furniture and brightly colored accessories.

Is that the new aesthetic? Are colored walls out? Or is this because they are aimed at apartment dwellers who don't paint their walls?
posted by smackfu at 6:58 AM on July 15, 2010


Just to show us what a bleak and boring book it is.

The Bible isn't boring (well, maybe all the "begats"). Bleak, possibly. Scary, possibly. Destructive? possibly. But boring? We have wars, daring escapes, assassinations, homecomings, kids getting eaten by bears, restorations, fear, redemption, apocalypse, things with more than one face, villains, heroes, incest... There is a lot of stuff in that book. And it has more jokes that the Iliad.

If you can't be bothered to read the whole thing, Blogging the Bible (from Slate) is a fair summary.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:00 AM on July 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


Leksvik is bigger than Jesus
posted by Esteemed Offendi at 7:05 AM on July 15, 2010


i like it better this way
posted by bonsai forest at 7:21 AM on July 15, 2010


The IKEA cataolog IS my wife's Bible.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:21 AM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, well, the Bible is my wife's Ikea Catalog.
posted by notyou at 7:29 AM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


the Bible is my wife's Ikea Catalog.

I'm picturing how this would actually work out, if you used the Bible as a home design catalog. There are many choices - I mean you could go with the early royal/Pharoah style, or you could go with roving Israelite, and do lots of swoopy tent fabric and low camp tables. Or you could aim for the early Nazareth village look, with piled stone, potted palms, goat hides, etc. Or maybe you're more of a cosmopolitan Jerusalem type, aiming for the sophisticated classical minimalism of monumental temple architecture. So many choices in the BIYBL line!
posted by Miko at 7:39 AM on July 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


I did some handwavy calculations and determined that if an IKEA catalog weighs about one pound, and 175 million catalogs weigh about 90,000 tons, and each ton of catalog paper takes up about 8 trees... that's about 700,000 trees.

According to the U.S. Forest Service, tree farms with hybrid poplar trees planted 12 foot apart average about 300 trees per acre, or about 200,000 trees per square mile.

Huh. So about four square miles of trees are pulped every year for IKEA.

Further frantic handwaving reveals a ten-year regrowth period for pulp trees, so a patch of land 20 miles square could be considered dedicated to publishing the IKEA catalog....
posted by Jubal Kessler at 7:39 AM on July 15, 2010 [5 favorites]


Wasn't the 2007 catalogue the one with the dog penis in it? I still have that one at home, whichever year it was. I just can't throw it out. And I don't even like IKEA.
posted by orange swan at 7:40 AM on July 15, 2010


No, not 20 miles square, but 6.3 by 6.3 miles (40 square miles). Or 103 sq km.
posted by Jubal Kessler at 7:42 AM on July 15, 2010


I prefer the Ikea catalog's treatment of gays and women to the Bible's. So, yeah.
posted by heyho at 7:48 AM on July 15, 2010


bashos_frog: "since anyone who buys their furniture has to replace it every couple of years"

Do people actually have problems with Ikea furniture falling apart? There's some extraordinarily cheap stuff that is a bit flimsy, but generally it's pretty solid and can cope with being disassembled and reassembled a few times without any issues.

Also, are there people who genuinely find it difficult to assemble the furniture, or is this just a lazy comedian joke? I find the diagrams and instructions pretty clear and am frequently impressed with how it's designed to be idiot-proof.
posted by Stark at 7:48 AM on July 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


Let's not forget about the Gospel according to albrecht, which describes to us the immaculate conception, and birth, of BÅB.

[previously]
posted by Kabanos at 7:54 AM on July 15, 2010


Nah, IKEA's stuff is built with stiff wood.
posted by crapmatic at 7:54 AM on July 15, 2010


> Also, are there people who genuinely find it difficult to assemble the furniture, or is this just a lazy comedian joke?

I'd go with lazy comedian joke. It's the modern version of I CAN'T PROGRAM THIS STUPID VCR IT KEEPS FLASHING 12:00.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:55 AM on July 15, 2010


Do people actually have problems with Ikea furniture falling apart?

I was going to note this too - all the stuff I've bought from IKEA is still holding up, and the oldest of it is nigh on 15 years old. BILLY bookcases don't hold up that well over time, but they're super cheap, and neither do their beaverboard analogues like Sauder or the Target stuff. I also avoid case furniture from target - chests of drawers - because they just feel flimsy to me, and it's easy to find good/antique ones secondhand. But everything else seems to last pretty well.

As for putting the stuff together; I'll admit to making mistakes. I often wish there were words in the description, as I have a hard time parsing visual directions. So quite often, I'll end up mistakenly swapping a 1 1/2" bolt in where I was supposed to use the 1", or whatever, and have to disassemble and start over when I discover the error.
posted by Miko at 7:58 AM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


> Nah, IKEA's stuff is built with stiff wood.

The best thing about that picture, aside from the obvious, is the dog's head is centered in the labyrinth, like some bizzaro world halo from a religious icon.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:58 AM on July 15, 2010


Window> Swatch Libraries> Color Properties > Desaturated
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:05 AM on July 15, 2010


Okra is evil. Last I read, they support unsustainable tree harvesting. Huge environmental damage. Plus all sorts of skeezy tax dodges, so that while Sweden's government spent boodles on public services that supported the founder's clan, they pay nothing back into the system.

IOW, don't support Ikea.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:05 AM on July 15, 2010


Also, are there people who genuinely find it difficult to assemble the furniture, or is this just a lazy comedian joke? I find the diagrams and instructions pretty clear and am frequently impressed with how it's designed to be idiot-proof.

A friend of mine who is very intelligent but who doesn't like working with her hands told me she finds it very difficult and frustrating and every time she assembles an IKEA piece there's always a moment when she's vowing to never buy another thing from IKEA that needs assembly. Some people really never do anything much with their hands and they either find it very difficult to assemble stuff — or they've never done it, and won't try because they think they can't do it. Another friend of mine bought a bookcase from Canadian Tire and hired someone to assemble it, which I bet more than doubled the cost of it. And I remember a conversation I had with my dental hygienist in which she was asking me if she could tackle changing her showerhead. I told her it was not much harder than changing a lightbulb — they just screw on and off — and I encouraged her to go ahead, but I don't think I managed to convince her. She looked so fearful.

It just mystifies me that so many people are so afraid to even try doing things for themselves.
posted by orange swan at 8:07 AM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, are there people who genuinely find it difficult to assemble the furniture, or is this just a lazy comedian joke?

I've had some stuff that requires three hands and aligning eight dowels to get the front and back of a unit to match up. That can result in cursing.

Also, there are A LOT of people who don't read the instructions.
posted by smackfu at 8:08 AM on July 15, 2010


Also, hanging the doors straight can drive a man mad. You can adjust those Euro hinges every which way but plumb.
posted by smackfu at 8:09 AM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


For the most part, it's fairly easy. I just put together an Ikea desk, though, and the illustration that showed the orientation of the drawer's sliding components was a little difficult to make out. When the up/down orientation matters, and the thing that needs to be attached to a board is really really close to the center of the board, then that's a little difficult to see in those minimalist illustrations. In times like that, the pattern is usually assemble-swear-disassemble-reassemble. Still pretty quick, depending on how creative I get on step 2.
posted by .kobayashi. at 8:23 AM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've never found it difficult putting IKEA stuff together per say; I just usually end up going "Ahh, all done. *looks at thing, realizes something's backwards, reversed, or mirrored* SONNUVABITCH" the first time I assemble something.-
posted by pyrex at 8:23 AM on July 15, 2010


I told her it was not much harder than changing a lightbulb

I met a family once who called an electrician when they needed to replace a bulb. They were proud of it: "It's not really safe to meddle with that kind of thing yourself - better to get it done properly" they said.
posted by Phanx at 8:44 AM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


"It's not really safe to meddle with that kind of thing yourself - better to get it done properly" they said.

Anyone that thinks this is probably right.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:48 AM on July 15, 2010 [5 favorites]


I've visited IKEA just once. I expected to love it because it seems like everyone I know does, but I didn't. I mean, I do get the appeal, and the stuff has a certain clean, contemporary aesthetic, but it's not my style and wouldn't look right in my home. And it has a certain "cheap" look, by which I mean it looks flimsy and poor quality and as though it won't last. In the entire place there was just one piece I considered buying, a floor lamp, but it seemed extremely tippy so I left it there.

My dad, an award winning woodworker, visited IKEA for his only and only time a few years after I did, and nothing could equal the scorn and contempt he had for the place. He said it their furniture looked like packing crates nailed together any which way. And now my family we know to not mention the four-letter "I" word to him, because he'll start going on about how crappy their stuff is.
posted by orange swan at 8:50 AM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I met a family once who called an electrician when they needed to replace a bulb. They were proud of it: "It's not really safe to meddle with that kind of thing yourself - better to get it done properly" they said.

Tradespeople must make a killing off doing simple things for people. When I bought a washer and dryer for my house 3.5 years ago, the salesman asked me if I wanted hookup for the washer, which was "$150 plus tax". I burst out laughing and when I could talk, said, "Oh, that is just shameless!" The salesman didn't even try to tell me it was "very competitive pricing" or "worth it for the convenience" or any such nonsense. He just nodded sheepishly.
posted by orange swan at 8:55 AM on July 15, 2010


My dad, an award winning woodworker, visited IKEA for his only and only time a few years after I did, and nothing could equal the scorn and contempt he had for the place.

Woodworker doesn't like cheap pressboard furniture? That is shocking.

Too bad that proper furniture done by a professional woodworker is only for rich people nowadays.
posted by smackfu at 9:01 AM on July 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


The trick to assembling Ikea stuff, at least the bigger stuff, is to not try and do it by yourself. I once tried to put together a fairly big bed (one of the ones with under-bed storage) single-handed and it was ... difficult. There was a complex system of rope, pulleys, and braces to keep the thing in position while I put the various screws in, to keep it from breaking itself.

I can imagine that someone who goes out, buys themselves an apartment's worth of Ikea furniture, and then tries to put it together themselves would probably find themselves swearing "never again" somewhere after the third or fourth hour.

But if you have an extra person, and particularly if you have some basic tools beyond what Ikea provides you with (like a power driver with metric hex bits), it's really not hard.

The other thing is that some of their pieces are much harder to assemble than others. Some things, like the Poang chairs and footstools, you would really have to be stupid to mess up; the pieces can only go together one way, so all you need to do is keep a photo of the finished product handy. But there are others that come with a lot of almost-but-not-quite-identical parts that can be fairly tricky.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:10 AM on July 15, 2010


The only difficulties I've really had with Ikea furniture were when I was living alone, no one around to help, and I was trying to carry really heavy stuff up to my sixth-floor apartment. Directions that called out two-man lift, like for tabletops, I ended up just winging by myself.

My absolute worst experience - I went to Ikea to purchase a glass-topped coffee table. It takes anywhere from an hour to 90 minutes to get there and back, and the elevator in the building is broken again. The box was about five feet long and two or three feet wide, weighing about 40 pounds. And, being corrugated cardboard, pretty hard to grasp. I decide that the easiest way to get it upstairs is to carry it up the stairwell, stopping every couple of steps to readjust.

About two flights up, I stop, pick up the box again, and bump it against the face of the next stair - BANG! The tempered glass tabletop had quite literally exploded inside of the box.

I brought it back the next day and sheepishly told the returns clerk "it was like that when I opened the box!" She told me I should open the next one before I put it in my car.
posted by backseatpilot at 9:12 AM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can imagine that someone who goes out, buys themselves an apartment's worth of Ikea furniture, and then tries to put it together themselves would probably find themselves swearing "never again" somewhere after the third or fourth hour.

I had to outfit my entire flat from Ikea by myself (I didn't have any furniture to my name, didn't really know anyone in town well enough to ask for help, and even at Ikea's cheap prices, it wound up somewhere in the €3000 range - I can't imagine what outfitting the place at a better store would have cost). I actually found it pretty fun, but I did have them deliver the big pieces. Doing it alone and trying to carry those fuckers up the stairs? I would have just said "fuck it" and slept on the floor.
posted by cmonkey at 9:17 AM on July 15, 2010


I also know another guy who outfitted his flat from Ikea in the exact same circumstances, and he just paid Ikea to come by and build everything for him when they delivered.
posted by cmonkey at 9:19 AM on July 15, 2010


So, now it goes IKEA > Beatles > Jesus?

Actually we don't have enough information about IKEA vs. Beatles. We know from Lennon[1] that Beatles > Jesus, and this post establishes the theorem that IKEA > Bible. Jesus is a proper subset of the Bible, so it's reasonable to then infer IKEA > Jesus.

However, we can make no inference about IKEA > Beatles or IKEA <>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/More_popular_than_Jesus
posted by kmz at 9:21 AM on July 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


You got me there, kmz.
posted by Miko at 9:26 AM on July 15, 2010


(Crap, markup fail on my part. It should be a BibTex style citation for the Wiki article there at the end.)
posted by kmz at 9:29 AM on July 15, 2010


Am I the only one clicked through to the linked art and thought, "Really? Hating on Ikea and its catalog design in 2010? Little late to the game there, Picasso." It's telling that the discussion in this thread is significantly more I treating than this dude's banal take on consumer culture.
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 9:32 AM on July 15, 2010


I met a family once who called an electrician when they needed to replace a bulb. They were proud of it: "It's not really safe to meddle with that kind of thing yourself - better to get it done properly" they said.

Revolution, wall, etc. etc.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:33 AM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Little late to the game there, Picasso.

Well, if you RTFA, it turns out that this work was actually created in 2007. And what he's doing is less a commentary on catalogue design or consumer culture than on the evolution of aesthetics and treatment of color. Check out his other work - he does digital averaging of color in a lot of formats, and in doing so you get a sense of what the strongest parts of a design aesthetic of a given kind of product. For instance, here's his averaging of every Playboy centerfold broken into decades (interesting how the skin gets lighter in tone), his averaging of Hals and Rembrandt portraits, and his depiction of the film Titanic as a compilation of the dominant average tones in each frame.

But your kid coulda done that, right?
posted by Miko at 10:05 AM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


IKEA furniture is easy when you read the instructions properly.

Hell, you don't even have to know how to read, just how to pay attention to detail. They even show you when you need two people, imagine that! It's like any building project- measure twice, cut once. Or in this case go over the instructions before you start, organise your materials and follow along again as you go. This way you won't have to take it all apart and start over again, guaranteed.
posted by sunshinesky at 10:09 AM on July 15, 2010


Putting together IKEA stuff is fun until you do something like buy a set of hardwood kitchen chairs and they don't really fit together that well and you're sweating after the first one and there are THREE MORE.
posted by smackfu at 10:41 AM on July 15, 2010


Sure, smackfu, but after the first you have a place to sit and rest for a moment and when you get started again you'll have a place to prop up the instruction booklet and after the second you'll have a place to sit and a place to rest your feet and when you get started again you'll have a place to prop the instruction booklet and a place to put your tools and after the third you'll have a place to sit and place to rest your feet and a place to set down your drink and when you get started again you'll have a place to prop the instruction booklet and a place to put your tools and a place to pile the parts and after the last you'll have places for you and three of your friends to sit and relax and enjoy the rest of the day.

It's more or less how Isak in Knut Hamsun's Growth of the Soil built up a mining and agriculture empire in the Norwegian forest with nothing more than an axe.
posted by notyou at 11:17 AM on July 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


While I'm whining, someone really should tell IKEA that 4"x6" is not quite equal to 10cmx15cm so none of their photo frames fit quite right.
posted by smackfu at 11:26 AM on July 15, 2010


Well, perhaps you should switch to a more sensible measuring system!


Anyway, the link in DU's comment make sense to anyone? I seem to be missing something, and it's annoying.
posted by bjrn at 11:39 AM on July 15, 2010


I think DU is making a comparison between the Bible and Ikea by referencing the "straight and narrow" passage from Matthew and contrasting that with the winding pathways that meander through an IKEA store.
posted by Miko at 11:44 AM on July 15, 2010


Too bad that proper furniture done by a professional woodworker is only for rich people nowadays.

I had a good think about this, recently. A few years ago, I outfitted my empty home for the first time with furniture. I'd never owned furniture before, really. I became a regular visitor to the local secondhand stores, eyeing any solid piece of woodwork for utility, comfort, and to a lesser degree, elegance. Soon enough I acquired a collection of reasonably well-put-together furniture that averaged about thirty or forty years old, with a few ancient and new pieces at either end of the range. I finally populated every room with something, stuff that looked homey and somewhat quality, and stopped the hunt.

I never could commit to the prices asked for by local furniture makers. A tiny walnut endtable for $500? Three thousand for a credenza? And, of course, I felt obligated to price a collection instead of individual items. Handcrafted stuff is meant to be heirloom — the stuff depreciates 80% soon as you walk out the door — and you in fact do need bags und bags of money to override the sticker shock at those places. The heirloom argument just doesn't persuade the vast majority of us, I think.

On the other hand, given access to a soupçon of a moneybag, I might eventually commission something like this seven-foot-tall endtable (about $750, on spec). Stuff you just can't find in stores.
posted by Jubal Kessler at 1:34 PM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's OK. I just wrote a looping shell script to digitally publish The Bible to /dev/null.

I also wrote OM MANI PADME to my 10k RPM hard drive as a hedge.
posted by zippy at 2:36 PM on July 15, 2010


Husband and I assembled an entire kitchen's worth of IKEA cabinets and drawers. It took us a week, working in the evenings. Ahead of time, we agreed to only tackle 2 or so each night, which kept the frustration level manageable. But we could NOT have done it without massive support from the IKEA fans forum, an community site run by folks who just like to help you put all that crap together. Then there are the folks who don't follow the instructions.
posted by memewit at 4:52 PM on July 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


The heirloom argument just doesn't persuade the vast majority of us, I think.

One doesn't buy a heirloom. Heirlooms become heirlooms only when they are passed down to someone who wants them and who values them at least in part because they belonged to an older family member. And you can't predict what your children or nieces and nephews or grandchildren will want or have room for.
posted by orange swan at 7:41 PM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Heirlooms become heirlooms only when they are passed down

Colloquially, maybe. But there is an actual legal definition, meaning "bundled with an inheritance," which means that you can buy something destined to be an heirloom; and it qualifies as an heirloom once the ownership changes, even if the recipient doesn't want it.

The market for fine woodworking now is essentially the same as for fine art. It's not for regular people; it's not affordable. Like Jubal Kessler, I would rather purchase case furniture secondhand, things made 50 or so years ago, because it's better than even the new furniture you find at expensive furniture stores. Until the furniture craftsman shops died out, this stuff was made for a middle-class market but the quality was quite good. That world is long gone.
posted by Miko at 8:18 PM on July 15, 2010


Oh yes, low-end antiques are a great way to go for furniture. I have some chairs that were my great-grandmother's. They were actually her kitchen chairs. (I am not sure what happened to her dining room set — I think my aunt has them.) Back in 1900, they were a very common sort of chair, and there's a lot of them around today. A friend of mine has a set that's almost identical. But I use them as dining room chairs because by today's standards they are "nice enough" for that. Also in that same picture you can see my walnut china cabinet, which is from the thirties or forties, is in perfect shape, and still cost hundreds of dollars less than the less well-made equivalent new piece from Sears or Leons.
posted by orange swan at 6:01 AM on July 16, 2010


Really, if you want to get good at something, refinishing is a good choice. Buy some beaten up old furniture that is built of proper wood by proper workers and transform it into something worthwhile.
posted by smackfu at 7:34 AM on July 16, 2010


The catalogue layout above suggests 175M copies are printed each year, up from 100M in, what, 2001? If that growth rate is sustained, the Ikea catalogue will have surpassed the Bible in all copies ever printed within 8 or 9 years.
posted by acoutu at 8:46 AM on July 16, 2010


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