The 1950s was the heyday of the wing chair, and in order to be considered a serious furniture dealer, IKEA had to sell them, too. So in 1951, Ingvar asked the furniture manufacturer, Qvarnström (which had its factory near the IKEA headquarters in Älmhult, in southern Sweden), to make a really good wing chair – but that more people would be able to afford.
"I went and picked up Ingvar’s old MK chair in my old Volvo"
The result was the MK chair: "modern with royal comfort" and "a quality chair made with Swedish handiwork," according to the first IKEA catalogs.
It mysteriously disappeared from the range for 60 years, but in 2012, it made a comeback under the name STRANDMON – thanks to Ingvar, who personally wished to see the return of his favorite chair. Of course, IKEA had grown into a large company over those 60 years, so his request was a bit easier said than done. But when it came to finding a place in the range for a favorite of Ingvar’s, we knew we had to follow our heart and find a way.
“I went and picked up Ingvar’s old MK chair in my old Volvo,” long-time IKEA co-worker Glenn Berndtsson recalls of the process. “But when I then went down to our pattern shop in Älmhult, we found we didn’t have any documentation on MK – so I had to send the sample down to our supplier in Romania.”
The supplier was given two weeks to study the chair and produce a new version with the same comfort and appearance. After a few changes, and many comparisons with the original MK chair, it went through a thorough testing phase that bumps and puts high pressure on the actual wings of the chair. The MK chair was sturdy, but STRANDMON needed to be even stronger than the original because we use furniture differently today than we did back then. Children may lie across the chair and adults may stand next to it, leaning on the wings.
A few weeks later, just before Christmas 2012, we returned home with the new chair and proudly asked Ingvar to try it. This was the real test. Of course, it wasn’t perfect. But after several adjustments, we arrived at the same excellent comfort that made MK his personal favorite – but with new materials that meet tougher quality standards. And, to make the chair even more comfortable, we decided to complement STRANDMON with a footstool.
We took a chance on the wing chair, following an instinct without really knowing if the new MK chair would be successful. But STRANDMON outsold all forecasts, making it to the cover of the IKEA catalog for two consecutive years – so we know that the need for a comfortable chair is still there, and that sometimes, following our hearts can lead to unexpected success. That’s what we call a great comeback.
For product and pricing information about STRANDMON click here
For anyone looking for a real and exclusive sneak peek behind the scenes of the famous IKEA thinking and design, these stories give a glimpse into the process that stands for the unexpected, the unusual and the quirky.