This €50 Ikea table could be worth as much as €5,500 in the future, experts predict
Ikea's 're-imagined' €50 side table is tipped to stand the test of time and become a future antique, writes Jessica Doyle
As weekend activities go, a trip to Ikea is right up there with repainting the spare room and staining the garden fence. Hordes of us will walk through its doors this weekend (and, no doubt, walk out again several hours later having spent a small fortune on plates, candles and picture frames that we didn't know we needed until we got lost somewhere between Lighting and Small Storage). But how many are aware that, amid the Billy bookshelves, tableware and sheepskin rugs, there may be a valuable future antique?
According to experts at the art and antiques search site Barnebys, the humble Lövbacken side table, recently reintroduced and currently available for €50, could be worth as much as €5,500 in the next 20 years.
"We frequently see very popular products of the past getting the most recognition at auctions, as they become future antiques within their own right," says the site's founder Pontus Silfverstolpe. "In recent years, there have been a significant number of examples where a designer's ideas on both beautiful and functional everyday life items have attracted collectors, interior designers and trendsetters all over the world. Many of tomorrow's antiques could in fact be found in major furniture chains, both on a luxury scale and an affordable one."
In the case of Ikea's Lövbacken, the three-legged, leaf-shape table, originally designed in 1956 and named Lövet, was the company's first piece of flat-pack furniture (conceived almost by chance when its creator, Gillis Lundgren, couldn't fit it into his car and had to saw off the legs). After it went out of production, original versions of the table were reportedly selling for thousands at Swedish auction houses, which prompted its reintroduction at Ikea stores five years ago.
The table has just been given another revamp with new materials as part of Ikea's 'Re-imagined Classics' collection of limited-edition pieces, launched to celebrate the company's 75th anniversary, which will be rolled out over the next few months. Others include the Järpen armchair (renamed Räane), a wire armchair conceived in 1983 by Danish designer Niels Gammelgaard, who gave himself the challenge of designing a comfortable chair without fabric or padding. It has been fetching up to €2,200 at auction - a substantial uplift on the €50 it will be sold for here from October.
According to Jared Sager, Ikea's Head of Collections: "In recent times, we've seen a selection of Ikea's most iconic designs become sought-after collectibles in auction houses across the world, commanding prices 10 times higher than their launch price. We believe the demand for these items on the second-hand market is subject to Ikea's Democratic Design principles, where we work with designers to develop furniture with quality that's built to last."
Silfverstolpe credits the rise in value of such products to an increase of interest in mid-century design about 20 years ago, which saw demand for pieces in that style, whether or not they originally had a high price tag, or were the work of a known designer.
In the case of the Lövbacken, Silfverstolpe says: "Not all Ikea furniture is high quality, but this is a sophisticated table; it has quality in the material and the design. It's very typical of the mid-century style and it's light, which is what a lot of people are looking for now."
John Lynch of Michael Mortell antiques on Francis Street, Dublin, says some of the mid-century pieces that are coming on to the market could have been made for some of the big department stores at the time.
And if flatpack isn't your thing, there are other pieces widely available now that could be worth a lot more in the future. "Of course, it depends on what it is and what it's made of," adds Lynch. "If a piece of furniture is made out of MDF, I doubt in 20 years' time - or even in 100 years' time - that it will be of any great value."
Take the Tulip table, Eero Saarinen's classic design for Knoll from 1957, which he created as a solution for the "ugly, confusing, unrestful world" and the "slum of legs" that he observed beneath other tables. Its elegant, pedestal design and marble top have been a mainstay of the minimalist interior ever since - and a much copied one at that. The real thing will set you back at least €3,300 for a dining table, but Silfverstolpe says it's likely to double in price over the next two decades.
Stalwarts of the mid-century era when the idea of 'design classics' took hold, the Ercol 206 chair or Ladderax shelving are both sought-after on eBay and potentially worth a lot more in future. Similarly, there is a market in ceramics too - discontinued geometric 1960s pottery is becoming increasingly collectible, and according to the auction house Cheffins, 1980s ceramics is a category currently on the rise.
Lighting can also be a good way to invest in a future collectable. Kartell's baroque plastic Bourgie table lamp, available from ¤298 at Kartell.com in various colours, is already a design classic. Introduced in 2004, it was created by the Italian designer Ferruccio Laviani, whose connection with the Memphis movement (very much in vogue again) can be seen in its postmodern style. It makes a playful addition to an interior and, in Silfverstolpe's opinion, could be worth as much as €5,000 in 20 years' time.
If you're searching for future antiques, says Lynch, it makes sense to invest in limited edition designer collaborations, or one-off pieces.
"The antiques of tomorrow are the one-off pieces that you buy today," he adds.
"Twenty years ago, I bought a [David] Linley piece from London and a lot of those pieces are mass-produced to a degree, but they would still go up in value because of the name attached to it."
Of today's high-street collections, the respected designer Bethan Gray has teamed up with Anthropologie on a new range including chairs and tables that are way below her usual prices, and H&M launched its first ever furniture collection yesterday by Swedish designer Mattias Chrisander. It's more design-led than you might expect, particularly for the price point - and, who knows, some of these pieces might just be the collectibles of the future.