Back in April, when I admitted to having a torrid love affair with Swedish home furnishings behemoth IKEA — a company recently singled out in The Atlantic as an anti-Wal-Mart posturer and possibly “the least sustainable retailer on the planet” — I ruffled a few feathers. But I do stand by my words. I really like IKEA.

Despite allegations of greenwashing that have made me slightly more skeptical about the company’s environmental transparency, I do like their designs, price-points, and many of their policies. IKEA isn’t perfect, nor do they claim to be, but I give them credit for being ahead of the curve. 

That said, when IKEA sponsors a press event marking the release of their yearly print catalog — a coveted publication when first released, like those old Abercrombie & Fitch catalogs but with stylish mauve chaises instead of shaved male chests — I try to attend. This year, undeterred by but conscious of the "beware of IKEA" chatter in the green community, was no different. I stopped by the 2010 catalog press preview in Manhattan on Tuesday.

When previewing just-released or soon-to-be releases items from IKEA I look at two specific things: trends (a homey rustic-chic aesthetic and gray upholstery are going to be big in 2010) and green innovation. When learning about IKEA’s fresh designs I picked up on one odd “theme” the company is running with in 2010: big — wider couches, longer tables, bulkier bureaus. So much for the concept of petite and scaled-back living that I thought the country was moving towards. The IKEA folks claim customers wanted big and so big they delivered.

As usual, IKEA delivered on the green front as well. Here are a couple new select, eco-oriented pieces that caught my eye:

IKEA is pushing no- and low-energy lighting technologies. The SUNNAN indoor task lamp ($19.99) is a solar-powered LED lamp that burns bright for about four hours after the battery pack (not the whole unit) is charged in the sun. Starting last month, for each SUNNAN Lamp sold across the world, UNICEF receives one lamp. The lamps are given to children living in electricity-less homes in refugee camps and remote villages across Pakistan. 

I dig these stackable TEPPAS drawer units ($19.99) made from recycled PET plastic. 

Perfect for work-at-home types like myself, DAVE ($17.99), is a non-off gassing laptop table that allows folks to work from their couches without worry of, um, formaldehyde exposure. 

I never realized this, but the ever-popular and wicked cheap ($7.99) LACK side table is constructed with some recycled content. I love the one with the new Walnut finish. 


IKEA fans, have you taken a look at the 2010 catalog online yet? Anything that catches your eye?

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

At a press preview in Manhattan on Tuesday, equivocally eco-retailer IKEA unleashes its much anticipated 2010 catalog.