I can remember the first time I saw one. It was at a friend’s house in London. I had no idea that I was about to undergo a personal revolution. In his spare room, running along one side, was a set of Ikea Expedit shelves. Never before had I seen such an impressive vinyl-storage solution nor one so beautiful, for it stood above head height and seemed to include a lifetime’s collection. A beautiful wealth of music arranged deliciously from A through Z. When I heard I could own a set myself for a mere £35, I gasped; finally I could organise the sprawl of 12”s that littered my bedroom into tight categories. Never again would my ’08-11 Purple Dubstep singles be confused with my compilations of Ghanian Highlife. I left that flat a new man (read: obsessive compulsive muso fiend).
The ‘birch effect’ of the classic Expedit is clean, unblemished and smooth to the touch; as pure and honest as the art of collecting vinyl itself. It is held with such high regard that, when Ikea announced it would be discontinuing the Expedit range, wax addicts around the world wept. Yes, it seems like this shelving unit is much more than a shelving unit; it’s a way of life. To that I can attest: I once saw two best friends come to blows over a pristine second hand Expedit going for a bargain price on Gumtree.
Ikea announced that stores in Germany would be the first to stop stocking the Expedit, a brutal blow to one of Europe’s vinyl heartlands. A German Facebook group started in a bid to save the shelf has amassed some 20,000 likes while the country’s vinyl-only DJs have pledged allegiance to the Expedit by cancelling gigs anywhere within a 20 mile radius of an Ikea store. It’s expected that picket lines will form outside of key clubs like Watergate, Robert-Johnson and Ego while the country’s record shops are currently working out alternative storage solutions. A source close to Berlin’s Spacehall revealed that management were considering a move to Ikea’s Ivar units, though it’s uncertain whether the less sturdy model will be able to handle the weight of a thousand forgotten hard techno white labels. I’ve approached Move D for comment, but management told us he was too devastated to talk.
Over in the UK, panic buying of the Expedit has begun in earnest. London has been worst hit, with Ikea in Tottenham the first to sell out of units. Word on the ground is that the Wembley will be next hit, with record collectors planning trips to stores as far out of the capital as Southampton and Milton Keynes. Andrew Weatherall’s been spotted up in Gateshead, as that’s the only place left selling his beloved ‘high gloss red’ version. The Expedit should be the center of a haven not a hailstorm. Indeed, Ben UFO and Pearson Sound will use this week’s Hessle Audio radio show to appeal for calm.
So what of the future? Will the Expedit become as sought-after as pristine DMZ singles? Or that rare copy of ‘Can You Feel It’ found in an Oxfam in Hay-On-Wye? Probably not. After provoking outrage, Ikea has unveiled the Kallax, a near-identical shelving unit that the worldwide vinyl community is treating with suspicion. It looks like the Expedit, it stores as many records as the Expedit but it’s not quite the Expedit.
Tributes for the discontinued product continue to pour in from diehards, though about 83 per cent have failed to note that the new Kallax has the same internal sizes and fittings as its predecessor. Here’s hoping for that same ‘birch effect’.