The IKEA Catalog iPhone app showcases this hip, modern, minimalist furniture stores goods. In case you haven’t ever heard of IKEA, it is one of the largest (if not the largest) international home goods retail store in the world, with numerous stores dotting the globe. IKEA originated in Sweden in 1943 and today specializes in affordable, ready-to-assemble furnishings, storage solutions, home accessories, whole kitchen designs, cabinetry, appliances, and just about anything else commonly found within the home — with much of their design focus on being eco-friendly and cost effective.
It’s not surprising that a chain this large would create an iOS Universal catalog app of its own. The IKEA Catalog (iPhone and iPad Lifestyle app) extends the convenience of shopping from your home computer or laptop to the ease of using a mobile application, which features 350 virtual pages (of its June 2013 catalog) filled with roughly 1,000 (of its approximately 10,000) IKEA products. Within these pages you’ll also find extra content images to flip through and short videos to watch, and if you have a printed version of an IKEA catalog, you’ll be able to use a scan feature (with your iPhone) to unlock even more content.
You start off by choosing your publication country and language preference to begin viewing your virtual IKEA Catalog (2013), as well as other IKEA catalogs (for 35+ countries). It took me 6+ minutes to download 63Mb of data for the USA, IKEA 2013 Catalog. This iPad app has 3 simple icons on the bottom navigation bar (Stores, Scan, and “?” Info). In the Info area is a Help tab that leads you into an explanation for all of the functions within the app, like how to scan — scanning functionality requires high speed internet and an iOS device with a camera, but this feature allows you to find more (by looking for the camera icon found on the pages of the printed catalog version) and scanning that to unlock even more eye candy.
IKEA Catalog is organized into sections (an Intro, Life at Home: Organizing, Sleeping, Me-ing, Cooking, Eating, Working, Relaxing, Furniture & Home Furnishings, and additional store Information). The catalog itself seems to exude and overall European sensibility displayed as comfortable everyday living for real people first and practical storage and organization next — comfortable but very tidy. Flip through the image gallery pages with ease by swiping, tap once to reveal any available items for sale for that specific page (but selection is very limited), which will also give a product description, price and article number, etc. One thing I found a bit frustrating is that not everything in the image gallery page is tagged (for sale), so the selection is limited. Why show me something I can’t buy? However, there is a ton of products in this app. You’ll also find additional product suggestions for tagged items and if you find a decorated room page or specific item you really like, you have the option to Favorite a page or item by tapping on the “+” sign (in upper right) to add to your favorite list, and share the page or the IKEA Catalog with others through Facebook, Twitter, and email.
When adding an item to your list, there’s the opportunity to type in your own description, which I like because I saw a beautiful blue paint color (on the wall) that I liked, so titled my page “Sophisticated Blue” for easy reference. I also added to that list a pretty blue and white graphic print pillow as well. All the items that I perused through were very reasonably priced, although I can’t vouch for the overall quality of the products since I’ve never shopped IKEA before — but IKEA has been in business since 1943, so they must be doing something right. The vast number of products they offer come in a wide quality range of materials, which you can find in the product description area. The IKEA Catalog carries a lot of stuff — there are even kitchen appliances, kitchen cabinets, and faucets to be bought.
To get a closer look at gallery image details, you can pinch to zoom in and zoom out or tap to enlarge or make the image smaller. Some of the catalog pages have “Extra Content Available” which alerts you as you’re swiping through the pages (upper right). Watch short Films (indicated by an arrow button) by tapping the universal play button. I thoroughly enjoyed all the video/short films I watched due to their creative, upbeat, fun and quirky quality that did a great job of showing IKEA products being used by people in everyday life or by providing some eco-friendly tips — in 1+ minutes or less. I never expected a catalog to be this entertaining. These short videos have that same fresh, fun, cutting-edge appeal similar to the Target commercials. There is additional content in the form of still images (that are accessed by a paper icon in upper right). One of the additional content sections opened up to display a variety of wild paint-splattered finishes (giving examples of what can be done on a plain piece of unfinished furnishing that was for sale).
I think the IKEA 2013 Catalog overall does a nice job of explaining and showing off their products, provides an easy-to-use interface, gives helpful bite-size decorating philosophy and decorating tidbits, and interesting and entertaining videos that draw you into the whole IKEA experience. It’s a fun virtual catalog with nice looking modern/streamlined products that exude a casual design philosophy that made me want to kick back, put my feet up and flip through all that this iPad application had to offer — and I might even visit an IKEA store near me — really soon.
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