You could call Tanja Dolphin a bestselling author. Her latest tome, about to be released, has a print run of around 203 million copies. The book is the Ikea catalog, a global blockbuster by anyone’s standards. Ms. Dolphin, who began her career as a store manager at Woolworths in Germany, is the woman in charge of a publication that has gone down in pop culture history, and shapes the look and feel of homes across the globe.
The latest edition of the catalog is the first with Ms. Dolphin at the helm. She took over last year, after 19 years working for the Swedish company. “The catalog is one of the most complex projects there is at Ikea,” she says. Distribution extends to 48 countries, with minimal local changes. “For that reason, we look for everyday problems which affect people everywhere in the world.”
The latest catalog puts the main focus on living rooms, by order from Ikea’s senior management. For the previous two years, the emphasis had been on kitchens. “We receive guidelines on commercial priorities from management, and the 21 product divisions explain their new products, then we clear everything with the legal department. That’s how the catalog is put together,” explains Ms. Dolphin.