IKEA was founded on the simple premise of introducing stylish, affordable furniture into the homes of many. None of the brand’s products has embodied that ethos as effortlessly as the iconic Poäng armchair, the textbook definition of “democratic design.” A blissful marriage of form, function, quality, and sustainability, the Poäng chair is just as coveted today as it was upon its inception more than 40 years ago.
“Poäng is a modern classic that has stood the test of time and a great example of what IKEA calls democratic design,” said Gillian Firth, the sales leader of living rooms at IKEA. “For 40 years the Poäng chair has brought together style, function, quality, and comfort at a price point that’s affordable for the many.”
Aside from various cover designs, a name adjustment, and a few economical tweaks to the materials used, the Poäng armchair has remained largely unchanged over the last 40 years—until 2016. In honor of the chair’s 40th anniversary in 2016, IKEA told MyDomaine that it would release one new limited-edition Poäng frame and six new armchair covers.
The brainchild of Japanese designer Noboru Nakamura and IKEA mainstay Lars Engman, the Poäng chair features a sleek Scandinavian frame and an eclectic range of cover designs that have stood the test of time. The two first collaborated on the now-iconic project back in the 1970s when Nakamura moved to Sweden from Japan.
“The reason why I wanted to go to northern Europe is that the design there has essential, creative elements for humans,” Nakamura said. “Their products are pleasant, fun, and soothing to touch and use, with each having significant meaning and value.”
Comfort and function were kept top of mind when designing the Poäng.
“A chair shouldn’t be a tool that binds and holds the sitter,” Nakamura said. “It should rather be a tool that provides us with an emotional richness and creates an image where we let off stress.”
Nakamura and Engman’s creation has since become one of IKEA’s most popular products of all time, selling an average of 1.5 million models a year. That means more than 30 million Poäng chairs have been sold since its debut. Interestingly, its price has also gone down by 21 percent over the years.
“By being good stewards of our resources and reducing waste to a minimum, we have been able to cut costs associated with Poäng significantly, without changing the style and comfort Poäng fans have come to know and love,” Firth said.
But how exactly was this done? Well, the chair’s steel pipes were replaced by a frame made of layered bentwood in 1992. This alteration has allowed the chairs to be flat-packed and shipped more efficiently.
The limited-edition chairs that celebrated Poäng's 40th anniversary ranged from $129 to $249 and were available both online and in-stores. See the designs below.