A mid-century modern armchair has set the new world record for a piece of IKEA furniture at auction.
IKEA furniture is entering the auction market with more and more force, and while the Swedish brand is predominant in Scandinavian homes, it's also appearing at international design sales. IKEA was one of the first brands to offer mass-produced furniture at affordable prices, made by top designers. Some models have thus endured as vintage treasures and true design classics that collectors are snapping up.
From the Tema bookcase by Gillis Lundgren to the Åke armchair collection, including the famous Vilbert chair by Verner Panton (originally a commercial failure of the firm), the value of IKEA pieces has increased to reach several thousand pounds. This trend doesn't seem to be slowing down: during a recent sale, the Swedish auction house Stadautkion Sundsvall made the new world record for a piece of furniture of the brand.
See also: IKEA's Sources of Inspiration
The Cavelli armchair was launched in 1958 and, according to an IKEA museum article, it was only produced in five copies. The auction house further described it as the "most elusive and sought after model in Ruda's collection", while specialist Andreas Seising called it a "something of a holy grail for design enthusiasts".
"The Cavalli model is extremely unusual as it was manufactured in very few copies, which is reflected in its price. The fact that it has also been rather outdated for a number of decades has meant that there are even fewer left today," says Pontus Silfverstolpe, Barnebys co-founder.
The announcement of the collaboration between the Swedish company and the architect and designer Bengt Ruda in 1957 ignited the design world. Ruda, previously employed at A / B Nordiska Kompaniet, had already established his reputation with revolutionary armchairs. His decision to join a younger company was unprecedented, and the Ruda name strongly contributed to the rise of IKEA in the mid-twentieth century.
"Designer Bengt Ruda has been extremely important to IKEA and the furniture company's history. He was one of those hired by IKEA to create his own design, not just copy others’, which had previously characterised the furniture's production," continues Silfverstolpe.
See also: IKEA's Most Expensive Designs
Bengt Ruda, authorised to take risks in the design, designed this armchair with a structure and seat that was very modern for the time. “Why not dare to have the 1965 lines already in 1959?" The IKEA catalogue editor asked, describing the Cavelli armchair as a 'modern aristocrat'.
The Cavelli model was brought to the market before the idea of kit furniture, introduced in 1953, which sparked a wave of worldwide success for the company. It is associated with an aesthetic of the mid-century modern, which influenced urban planning, design and architecture. Breaking away from the opulent ornamentation of previous decades, mid-century modern introduced understated, elegant lines, as well as an obvious Scandinavian influence.
The previous auction record for a Cavelli was set in 2019, when the Swiss house Beurrett & Bailly sold one for 6,500 Swiss francs.
On Barnebys, there are around 5 million searches per year for pieces from IKEA, the brand that in many ways has furnished the world.