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Like any number of European millennials, sisters Anne and Lisa van Steenbergen grew up with an Ikea Storvik chair in their home. The curvy rattan lounger cost 180 euros when it was new. Three years ago, the sisters sold a used Storvik online for nearly twice that. Now the same chair sells for 10 times its original price.

This is the market for vintage Ikea. Through their business Furnituren, Anne and Lisa have sold used Ikea chairs and lamps to customers around the world. Some buyers are chasing nostalgia, while others have just tuned in to the artsy cool of Ikea's older designs.

"It's growing pretty fast," Lisa says of the vintage Ikea market. "We do see quite a lot of competition."

Americans may not imagine the words "vintage" and "Ikea" together. The company didn't enter the U.S. until 1985, so its cultural footprint is smaller in the states than it is in Europe, where Ikea has been a go-to for home furnishings for more than 80 years. And the company isn't widely associated with pieces that last decades. Often made of compressed wood and flat-packed for assembly at home, Ikea's inventory is designed to be affordable above all else. Many of us have had a bookshelf or bed frame fall apart during a move.

But look around your home and you might also spot a piece that's followed you since college — an experience that isn't so unusual. A recent search for Ikea on the online vintage marketplace 1stDibs pulled up everything from a set of Frosta stacking stools for $822 to a pair of yellow Lack end tables for $1,600. "The older Ikea items are really well-made furniture which could last for the next 50 years or even longer," Lisa says. Resellers like the van Steenbergen sisters say newer pieces can hold up just fine, too. Those that fall apart are usually victims of user error in assembly, poor upkeep or general forgetfulness. "People tend to throw it away or give it away much easier than a super-expensive designer chair," Anne says.

Anyone who bought a Vilbert chair in 1993 from Ikea might regret throwing theirs away. Not only was the angular, multicolored chair made by a famous designer — Vernor Panton — it's now highly valued by collectors, selling for somewhere in the low four-figures. Same goes for vases from a 2005 Hella Jongerius collection, which sold for 35 euros new and now cost hundreds, or even thousands, on the secondhand market.

Ikea has long focused on bringing innovative designs to as many homes as possible, says Johan Ejdemo, a design manager with the company. For every piece by a Panton or a Jongerius, there are hundreds designed by unpublicized Ikea staff. "For many, it's kind of news" that so much thought goes into the form and function of Ikea furniture, Ejdemo says. "Because many more low-price companies have a different approach." (He also says the furniture's flimsiness is "a little bit of a myth.")

That design is what makes the pieces so sought-after now. While Ejdemo says affordability is the primary focus for Ikea, many pieces are modernist in a way that's come back into style (if it ever even went out of style). The company's catalogue archive is online, and it's easy to imagine the pieces in a chic apartment today (the van Steenbergens are currently on the hunt for the Tajt denim futon from the 1973 catalog cover).

That combination of affordability and stylishness inspires devotion. Before they sold furniture, the van Steenbergens collected for themselves, visiting thrift stores around their home in Amersfoort, Netherlands, looking for telltale signs of Ikea — the screws, for instance, or the bright primary colors that were the company's signature in the '90s. Anne even began working at her local Ikea. The sisters bought so much, they had to sell some of it off to make room. "When it gets out of hand we sell again," Anne says.

The sisters aren't the only Ikea lovers who found a booming market for their personal collections. Harry Stayt, an artist and set designer in London, loved Ikea furniture as a child, even going so far as to use his paper route money to redecorate his bedroom. He began collecting vintage pieces after college in 2014. During the pandemic, with old Ikea filling his apartment, he opened his shop Billy.forsale.

"When I started, I was a bit apprehensive," Stayt says. "Why would someone want to buy something from the '90s, or the 2000s, because … they could remember going and getting that not long ago, and it costs 5 pounds, and I'm trying to sell it for, you know, a lot more than that?"

But to Stayt's surprise, everything he offered sold in about an hour. "I thought OK, people are interested in this, so I should keep the project going," he says.

Pieces from the '80s and '90s tend to be the most popular on the resale market. The bold styles pop on Instagram, where sellers post photos of their goods. A design that strikes a familiar feeling in a buyer often spurs a sale. "I get people messaging me that 'Ohmigod, I had this when I was younger and I can't believe that my mom threw it out,'" Stayt says. One of Anne and Lisa van Steenbergen's customers paid 400 euros ($431) for a Soloist lamp that she originally bought for the equivalent of 45 euros in the '90s.

Other buyers pay a premium to get what they never had. Both Stayt and the van Steenbergens say they sell a lot of pieces to customers in Asian countries where Ikea hasn't operated for very long. The U.S. is also a brisk market, making up between a tenth to a quarter of orders.

Ejdemo at Ikea is upbeat about the vintage market. Even if it means higher prices for goods that were meant to be accessible, these are pieces that still work, still look good, and that keep shoppers from buying something new that they might throw out later. "I think we all should consider how we consume," he says. "The things you love, you tend to take care of and keep."

Ikea celebrates the cool factor in its old designs. There's the catalog archive, plus Ikea opened its digital museum in 2021. And since 2014, the company has occasionally reissued some of its classic designs, a practice Ejdemo says he'd like to continue.

Stayt and the van Steenbergens see the used market continuing to grow, too. Stayt's drops of vintage collections have earned write-ups from Vogue and Hypebeast. He says he'd even be open to working with Ikea, perhaps in the gigantic retail space the company is opening in London this year.

"I'd love a little consignment store," he says. "Billy for Sale on Oxford Street would be great."

Gabe Bullard is a writer who covers culture and technology.