A tale of two chairs

When I emigrated from UK to Melbourne in 2008, I came with a suitcase of clothes, followed soon after by two PCs sent by airfreight and then in due course 16 cartons of books, DVDs and souvenirs. Otherwise it was a case of starting from scratch.

For furniture I went to IKEA, not far from home though a tedious half-hour drive fighting Melbourne’s traffic lights and congestion. During my first two weeks here I went there nearly every day, buying another piece or two and then returning home to assemble it. In due course my apartment could have passed as an mini IKEA showroom – I’ve just had a tally up and I’ve got 31 pieces of IKEA furniture; the only items from elsewhere are my office desk and chair.

Two IKEA Ingolf chairs

Two IKEA Ingolf chairs

Initially to reduce clutter I bought just four Ingolf dining chairs to go with my (extendable) circular dining table, then one more as a bedroom chair. On the rare occasions when I needed to seat six I borrowed the bedroom chair and pressed my office chair into service.

Then last year I decided that it would be good to have six matching chairs when required. Thankfully when I checked the IKEA website the same chair was still on sale – one of the ways in which IKEA make money is by amortising their design costs over vast numbers of units: PoƤng armchairs go back to 1978, Billy bookcases to 1979 – so off to buy one.

When I set to work assembling it, what was interesting was to see that in the intervening ten years the cost engineers had been to work. The picture shows old and new, superficially the same. What has changed is the weight – down from 6.7kg to 4.0kg (for bulk freight 160/ton now 250/ton) – and the way the chair is assembled. The older one comes with a ready made back/legs and front rail/legs and assembly involved linking these with two front/back rails. The new one came in an h-shaped box (which interlocks with another) containing two assembled sides, cross rails and X-rails. An interesting bit of cost engineering.

2 thoughts on “A tale of two chairs

  1. Leif Jensen

    Dear Tony,
    Your piece on the two IKEA chairs was extremely valuable and helpful. My wife and I had five of the older version you describe, bought around 2007. A few weeks ago one of them broke when my wife sat down and she fell to the floor. Luckily no major injury except a bump on the head. Unfortunately, our chairs no longer have the labels showing the article number. Do you by chance still have that. I think it should be 60146108. IKEA USA is saying that what we have is not their product but, of course, we know what we have bought from them over many years.
    Thank you and regards,
    Leif Jensen (from Stockholm). Now Bristol, Rhode Island

    Reply
    1. Tony Bryer Post author

      Thanks for looking by. I’ve just checked my chairs and the labels on the underside of the seats show a product code of 20948, made in Thailand, for the original chairs bought 2008, and 22737, made in China, for the newer ones.

      Reply

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