"A home doesn't need to be big, just smart."
That's the theme of the new 2012 IKEA catalog, which drops in August.
The influential Swedish retailer's new home book is a nod to shoppers who are still in savings mode. It touts lower prices on goods, as well as more products that address a smarter use of space and help craft more personal environments -- all while reflecting IKEA's eco-friendly ethos, executives said during a press preview that unveiled the 374-page book.
The 2012 catalog also addresses the digital/social revolution with a new iPad app -- debuting next month -- that allows consumers to browse through the book for the first time on a tablet computer, with video features that bring the pages to life.
What's more, the August launch of a design microsite and photo-sharing community will create a dialogue and interactive experience with home-design enthusiasts.
Dubbed the Ikea Share-Space, the microsite will include personal photos from people's homes and will provide a venue for shoppers to discuss design ideas and dreams, and home projects in the works. "It will allow people to draw inspiration from each other," Marty Marston, product public relations manager for IKEA, said during the press preview.
Design blogs on the microsite will cover not just home design, but art, fashion and beyond.
But what it won't be is a mouthpiece for IKEA's products, as there are other venues for that, Janice Simonsen, a company spokeswoman, told DailyFinance.
The yearly debut of the IKEA catalog echoes the role Sears' Wish Book once played in our culture. Nesters anticipate what cheap-chic design trends the home retailer will unveil in much the same way kids once looked forward to seeing what new toys would turn up in the Sears holiday catalog that would end up on their wish lists to Santa.
And this year, double-duty products are playing a starring role at IKEA. The KIVIK sofa and seating series, for one, includes a love seat and chaise lounge with built-in storage for $978.
"The catalog [also] has the theme of small-space organization and making the best use of your space," Simonsen said.
To that end, the LILLANGEN smart sink, for $49.99, features components specially designed to free up space for storage underneath bathroom cabinets.
And in its ongoing bid to roll out sustainable products, IKEA has expanded its line of LED lighting, which now includes TIVED, a $29.99 work lamp, made to reduce energy use. (And LED lighting lasts up to 20 times longer than incandescent lighting, Marston said.)