The One Thing We Never Buy at IKEA These Days

published Mar 27, 2018
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(Image credit: IKEA)

It’s no secret that we love IKEA here at Apartment Therapy, and regularly write about hacks and beloved products we can’t live without. I’m a huge fan of their everyday basics, and my own home is filled with their wine glasses, dishes, and napkins. I even have a what-is-now-vintage credenza that I’ve owned for almost twenty years and can’t seem to get rid of, even after a couple of moves. But there is one thing that I never buy from IKEA these days.

(Image credit: Dabney Frake)

About 10 years ago, I bought this print from IKEA. It’s by Lisa DeJohn, an artist whose work I loved at the time (but sadly couldn’t afford). I was so happy to see a poster version of her work at the store and snapped it up. I still have it, love it, and used it to show off my DIY magnetic frame in 2014, seen above.

I don’t think I’ve bought any artwork from IKEA since. Let’s talk about why for a moment. Is anyone else as surprised as I am that it is what it is? The store is filled to the brim with stylish, thoughtful items from some of the most creative product designers out there. But the artwork brings me up short every time I walk through the store, because some of it just doesn’t fit the overall brand. Here are a few notable examples:

(Image credit: IKEA)

The BJORKSTA print, which depicts a rope bridge crossing a river in some exotic location, does have size going for it. Anything that’s 55 x 39″ will occupy a huge chunk of wall space, which is admittedly not easy to do for $69, especially when it includes a frame. But this misty, ethereal scene — called a “jungle journey” in the product description — seems out of place surrounded by all that crisp, modern Scandinavian style. It reads “circa 2003 computer screen saver” instead.

(Image credit: IKEA)

The same goes for the Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe prints, which are so generic they put hotel art to shame. (Clip art is also more original.) IKEA prides itself on innovation and design, so it’s surprising that they devote space to something we’ve seen 50 million times before, and can probably find in multiple other stores at this moment. (In fact, here’s a very similar Audrey print from Target for $17.99.) Why IKEA why?

(Image credit: Livet Hemma)

Every once in awhile IKEA still commissions work from artists, like my beloved aforementioned print. The swimming one above, by British artist Nadia Taylor, showed up so many times on social media and design blogs, with good reason. Her work is colorful with bold shapes and fun patterns, all of which are very IKEA-ish and awesome. IKEA, if you are reading this, we want more of these please!

So, I’ll be skipping the art department for now. If you are looking for affordable ways to decorate with art, and these don’t do it for you either, get started with the the resources below. Artists regularly offer interesting pieces as downloads (might I suggest these, ahem, free IKEA-themed ones?) which you can print in multiple sizes for fairly cheap.

What’s your take on IKEA art collection? Love or hate?