7 Things You Can Learn from an Ikea Catalog

Maybe it’s just a home goods catalog. But perhaps it’s much, more more than that.

In her article in YouTheDesigner, self-proclaimed design slave and font geek Claire Jariss Manlapas waxes poetic about the 7 lessons designers can learn from an Ikea catalog.

Manlapas covers the basics – working with colors, composition design, how to master shading and lighting – then launches into some unexpected areas.

The Ikea catalog, she asserts, helps us become better people – or at least move closer to the people we’ve always imagined we could be.

[responsive]ikea_compare[/responsive]Take organizing, for example.

“As designers, we either live in a messy household or an extremely neat one,” Manlapas explains. “Either way, we can take notes from the catalog because it shows different ways on how you can be neat without being a freak. Organizing doesn’t only apply to your workspace; it may also apply to the layers named Layer 1 and Layer 1 copy on your PSD file.”

It also serves as an excellent tool for visualization, with its mobile app that allows customers to visually place products in their own lives. From a designer’s point of view, “this encourages visualization of elements, like adding photo filters or scaling logos. It reminds us of the freedom we have as designers to either add or subtract as we wish.”

Perhaps most poignantly, the Ikea catalog lets us glimpse what life as a grown-up can be like.

“The dreamy images of rooms—as seen in the Ikea catalog—serve as gentle reminders of what you want for yourself,” says Manlapas. “The images teach you to dream big and work hard in achieving that goal. The catalog is like some sort of basis for what an adult should be living or working in and if the images don’t come close to where you’re at, it’s time to flex a little more muscle.”

We can learn a lot from a company’s printed materials and what we just learned about Ikea makes us want to put together some new furniture and add some throw pillows. It’s not just about the products, but how we see ourselves using them.