Does IKEA Use Real Leather, Wood, And Cowhide? (Checked!)

There is a lot of debate about whether companies should use natural materials, such as leather, in products, and it all comes down to personal preference.

Using natural and real materials in furnishings is a great way to know whether or not they will hold up over time. However, synthetic materials are more customizable and cheaper.

So, does IKEA use real leather, wood, and cowhide in its products?

Here’s an Idea of How IKEA Makes its Products:

While there are couches, tables, and chairs for sale at IKEA that feature authentic materials, plenty use synthetic.  So, if you are looking to avoid natural materials like cowhide, you do have options.

Today we are talking about natural materials and how you can find them throughout IKEA’s many collections:

Does IKEA Use Real Wood?

IKEA uses all different types of wood to create its products.

While many pieces in the IKEA collection are made from real wood, many are made from wood chopped down almost to a sawdust-like consistency and then compacted tightly to create a wood-like structure. This is done by using wood that may not be sturdy enough to assemble a full-on wood piece.

IKEA uses this method, otherwise known as particleboard, to keep costs low to its consumers.  Since it is not using rich woods like oak and cherry, the cost of production for these furniture pieces is much lower, which means they can, in turn, sell them to you at a low price point. 

So, if you are looking to get a full sturdy wood piece, check the price to see the difference!

Other than particleboard, IKEA has been known to use mostly oak, birch, and pine in their furniture.  If you want to be sure what you are investing in is the real deal, make sure to check the full description of the piece before purchasing!

Where Does IKEA Get Its Wood?

When it comes to obtaining the wood used to make their furniture, IKEA’s team of foresters helps reduce the amount of waste and ensures that the process is sustainable.

Deforestation is a huge problem in the world’s climate crisis, so having a corporation like IKEA cover its bases sets a precedent for the rest of the furniture market.

IKEA’s forester team imported wood worldwide, including from Poland, China, Russia, Scandanavia, and Romania.  However, this has notoriously not been the best way to get wood materials, so IKEA is moving towards a more sustainable process.

Recently, IKEA has purchased forests mainly in Romania to keep the foresting sustainable to regrow and plant what they take.

How Much Of The World’s Wood Does IKEA Use?

IKEA currently uses 1% of the world’s wood and lumber supply. 

While they have more control over their wood supply, ignoring the large toll they take on this natural resource is hard.

As it stands right now, IKEA is the number one consumer of natural wood, making them the largest corporation to obtain wood.  This number only grows the more popular IKEA becomes.  Experts estimate that each year IKEA uses over 1.5 million more trees than it did in years prior.

However, IKEA recognizes that this leads to problems regarding sustainability, so they are moving towards gaining more control over their supply.  This, along with IKEA’s initiative to increase recycling and reduce waste, helps make IKEA more sustainable than other corporations.

Does IKEA Use Real Leather?

IKEA uses real leather in its products.

They pride themselves on using only sustainable and high-quality leather so that you can be sure that your product will last for years to come.  You don’t have to worry about the quality since IKEA regularly tests the leather they use for durability and quality before putting it on any products. 

While they use cattle hide for most of the leather products, they also use goatskin as well.   To keep the materials sustainable, IKEA sources their leather mainly from responsible farmers in Brazil.

Is “Landskrona” Real Leather?

Yes, Landskrona is real leather.  It is made from cattle leather that has been treated and processed to give it that ultra-soft feel.

Many people are confused about whether to not it is real leather because of the feel of it.  While leather is regarded as a very soft-touch material, Landskrona is on a whole new level.

The feel of it and the low cost lead some people to believe it is made from synthetic leather.  The entire Landskrona collection is very popular among consumers because of its modern feel, due mostly to the pilled-button details but mostly because of the softness of the material.

So, if you’re looking for a real leather couch that is not only soft but looks super sharp at an amazing price point, Landskrona is right for you.

Does IKEA Use Real Cowhide?

IKEA does use real cowhide in its products.  Cowhide is one of the most used leathers that you can find in any IKEA collection.

The reasoning is that cowhide is regarded as one of the softest types of animal leather, making it perfect for sofas, couches, and textiles.

But, what exactly is cowhide?  Cowhide is the natural fur and skin of a cow that has been sunbleached and then treated with chemicals to keep a stable shape.  This has been used in many homes furnishes since the beginning of time.

Cowhide is used in most of IKEA’s leather-based products, but there is a difference between cowhide and cow leather.  The leather is made from processing the natural cowhide after it has been bleached.

This is why cowhide that has been processed into leather can keep its signature soft-touch feel!

Where Do IKEA Cowhide Rugs Come From?

When talking about the type of textiles made from cowhide, you can’t forget the most popular cowhide rugs.

These black and white spotted rugs are a timeless decor statement piece that has been used for centuries.  So, it is no surprise that a furniture giant like IKEA would profit from its popularity.

IKEA sources the materials for the cowhide rugs and manufacturing them from the same place they get 50% of their leather: from Brazil!  Sticking to one location for outsourcing materials helps IKEA stay on track to reduce the amount of waste they produce each year. 

This also helps to limit the amount of transportation of the products, reducing the carbon footprint overall.

What’s IKEA’s Policy On Using Real Materials?

IKEA has always been very clear about its plans and initiatives for the future when it comes to using real materials in its products.

They are on track to meet their goal of being 100% renewable by 2040.  This also includes the natural materials they use, not only the harmful plastics—starting with their forest initiative that we touched on lightly earlier.

Deforestation is a big problem in the world. IKEA understands that they have a part in this problem which is why they are working towards forging in the forest they own to make the process 100% sustainable, leaving no huge impact on the environment.

However, one thing is hard to ignore: the use of animal-based materials in their products. 

This is one of the most controversial things about IKEA and a problem that has no easy solution.  While using products like leather and cowhide are common in most large furniture corporations, IKEA understands that it isn’t always ideal for everyone.

When talking about using animal products, it isn’t only offending people that is a problem.  Livestock makes up one of the biggest uses of land on earth, leading to many environmental problems.  This is why IKEA also strives to give its consumers options when it comes to materials.

Along with natural materials like wood and leather, IKEA offers many popular pieces made from more “green” materials.  This includes synthetic leather and particleboard woods.  This reduces the environmental impact and helps to keep the cost to consumers at a low price point.  However, IKEA isn’t perfect, and they recognize this.

This is why the IKEA to reduce initiative is so important to the company.  Putting your money where your mouth is when it comes to the policy of sourcing real materials is something that IKEA has promised to do.

Final Thoughts

There is a connection between quality and authenticity.  This means that the more “real” the material, the higher quality it is, and while this is a point with years of evidence to back it up, something tells me that the world is heading in a different direction.

The same thing can easily be said for IKEA and the way they manufacture their products.  Companies that promote a “fast” turnaround like “fast fashion” or “fast furnishings” often have a bad reputation when it comes to the sustainability of their products.  However, IKEA may very well be the exception to the common way of thinking.

While IKEA does use real materials like wood, leather and, cowhide in their products, they do so responsibly.  This is done by working directly with farmers and foresters to bring quality products without leaving too much destruction in their path.

This has helped to set the tone as we move into a new quarter-century.  This has helped to give us a glimpse at what sustainable manufacturing and production may look like in the future.

Reference Links:

IKEA Gets Deeper Into the Woods

Short FAQ About The Best Solid Wood IKEA Furniture

The Weird Economics Of Ikea

LANDSKRONA series | IKEA