— For some, it’s the Neiman Marcus Christmas Book. For others, the catalog-drop event of the year comes courtesy of Ikea, the Swedish seller of furniture and home decor.
It’s a big enough deal that Ikea hosted a press event Thursday in New York to unveil the 2012 edition — all 374 pages of it. (No, msnbc.com did not attend.)
If you simply cannot wait until August, when the catalogs are expected to reach homes, it’s already online in its entirety. An iPhone-app version, and Ikea’s first catalog for the iPad, will also be available on iTunes in August.
The themes for this year’s catalog: smaller and cheaper. Up front, Ikea touts price cuts on iconic items — the Poang chair, now $69 instead of $89; the Billy bookcase, $50 instead of $60. And the first seven spreads in the catalog are devoted to ideas for small spaces, or squeezing as many assemble-it-yourself shelving units, storage ottomans and loft beds as possible into a scant few square feet.
Lower prices and making do with existing spaces are themes that should play well as people continue to feel the pinch of a weaker economy. “We know that people are still having challenging financial times, and they’re looking for good value,” said Janice Simonsen, an Ikea spokeswoman.
Ikea is also trying to raise its digital profile and capitalize on some of the online buzz its products already inspire. The company has launched Share Space, a U.S.-only website in beta-test mode, where people can upload photos of their own rooms, add tags to Ikea products, discuss design and build wish lists. That could draw fans who frequent unofficial Ikea sites such as ikeahackers.net, which showcases creative modifications to Ikea staples.
At the press event, Ikea executives also discussed ways the company is trying to cut costs and pass savings on to shoppers, including building products that break down to fit into ever-smaller boxes — a sofa that fits in the back seat of a car — and methods for making furniture components that are still sturdy but use a fraction of the materials.