Why Ikea’s Billy Bookcase Is Forever Young

It is estimated, using Ikea’s own retail analysis, that every five seconds
Billy Library
is sold somewhere in the world. A staple of the Viking-style shed, in kit form since 1979, 120 million libraries, or their remnants, are scattered across the planet.

Affectionately nicknamed over 40 years ago as a winning “Pocketpriser” (pocket product), product design developer
for Ikea, Bonnie Yu remarks: “We say that Billy is 40 years old, but Billy is not old for us. He is a dear friend who is forever young. Before, there was a CD tower.

Early on, Billy proved to be a somewhat quiet shapeshifter. It was designed primarily for transporting books, but is used just as easily for
decorative gee-gaw like tomes these days. In response to the decline in paperback preservation, d
Eeper Billy shelves went into production in 2011.

Well, whatever your ballast, there’s big news for Billy enthusiasts. the child will be relaunched in a new face and details by Ikea in January 2024, putting aside what the company presented as sustainability issues with their beloved former storage star.

Billy returns to 2024, this time with what Ikea considers more sustainable materials, trims and assemblies, but will that be acceptable to his legions of fans?

Iconic or economical escape for the boring and/or overworked decorator, Billy is a safe and sturdy answer to the look, if not the heavy reality, of the classic, custom-made and cleanly, bespoke built-in bookcase. Hacked, enhanced, used as everything from headboards to room dividers, the Billy has a reverent following for its sleek Scandi-chic flair.

Perhaps its biggest deterrent to eco-conscious, budget buyers was the particleboard core under the real wood veneer. However, this has never included questionable solvents,
formaldehyde or PVC in production.

According to an environmental audit carried out by The
Materials Innovation Center at OCAD University in Toronto. He adds to his life cycle analysis that this marvel of the studio and lofty room “is manufactured on a single line, and no human hand ever touches the shelf until you, as the customer, unpack at home”.

The wooden pallets on which the Billy boxes once rolled have been replaced by Ikea’s cardboard pallets, further reducing the wood needed to deliver the bookcases to each customer off the production line.

Popular in an innocent but highly architectural white (already a cheap melamine sheet rather than a wood veneer), Billy is still not seen by Ikea as its enduring and commanding moment, and he was determined to do something about it. this subject. The company has always had a reputation for accepting its planetary failures and responsibilities head-on and introduced the new Billy as part of its circulatory approach, including its buy-pay programs.

I wonder if a shortage of materials caused by the crisis in Ukraine is not at stake here too.
She explains in her press release Billy: “
By switching from veneer to foil, reducing the use of plastic and allowing for disassembly and reassembly, Ikea aims to ensure Billy continues to be an important part of people’s homes for many years to come.

So not only does your Billy ’24 walk more lightly on Earth according to Ikea, but it can be taken apart without compromising its survival and trot with you wherever you go. What’s gone, and it won’t be to everyone’s taste, is the real wood veneer under an acrylic lacquer in the colored Billy cases, previously sourced largely from FSC forests, including (surprisingly) – forests Russians.

Bonnie Yu explains: “
For many years, we have been working with wood veneer. But natural resources have become increasingly scarce. By switching to aluminum foil, we are using materials that are already mass-produced and less rare. We harvest fewer trees, while customers will see a better looking product with a more competitive price. »

Growing up surrounded by dizzying canyons of undulating black synthetic beauty planks of printed grain, hung on every wall, even Billy’s real wood veneer was too thin and largely recognizable for my liking. That said, the simplicity of the design, like that of String, Elfa, 606 Universal Shelving (Vitsoe) and Ikea’s own Algot, really gives us something to do your own way.

Shelves can carry books, crockery, or 18th-century Delft with equal style. With good modular shelving like Billy, it’s all about the content, not the shelf, which visually fades away while framing your collections. Who knows what can happen to other Ikea classics, including brother Billy, Hemnes in solid pine.

Ensuring its potential longevity from line to landfill, ease of disassembly and reassembly is something of Ikea and other mass manufacturers.s of kit furniture have taken hold in recent years. As nerve-wracking as it was to tackle a stack of paneled veneer furniture with an Allen wrench and a blown-up schematic, taking the blasted things apart was just as taxing, often resulting in fatal damage (not just to the bookcase).

With a few tiny, unseen changes, including snap fittings, Billy’s purchased from 2024 will be taken apart and reconfigured or moved into convenient rooms from house to house, wanted or taken to rebuild and add character and a perched roof for rent or student. dig. The edges (vulnerable to chipping) will be wrapped in paper rather than plastic. We’ll have to see how they hold up in the years of use to come.

Three Billys here used as back-to-back room dividers and a single large shelf.
Three Billys here used as back-to-back room dividers and a single large shelf.

The color expressions will pair better with other colors and faux wood finishes in other Ikea ranges. black oak, dark brown oak, brown walnut, oak and birch. The Oxberg series of doors that allowed the Billy to be dialed in with open, blind storage for just about any situation will be relaunched with the same material and color updates.

The assembly instructions for the new Billy have a section detailing the proper disassembly of the product, with the new back panel being nail-free for easier snapping on and off. If you like the Billy as is, with the wood veneer and plastic edge support, you have 18 months to hook up or drag a trailer to Tallaght.

The new Billy collection will be launched in Ireland in January 2024; ikea.ie.

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