IKEA is founded by Ingvar Kamprad
When Ingvar Kamprad is 17, his father gives him money as a reward for succeeding in his studies. He uses it to establish his own business. The name IKEA is formed from the founder's initials (I.K.) plus the first letters of Elmtaryd (E) and Agunnaryd (A), the farm and village where he grew up. IKEA originally sells pens, wallets, picture frames, table runners, watches, jewellery and nylon stockings - meeting needs with products at reduced prices.
The first IKEA advertisements appear
Ingvar Kamprad's business outgrows his ability to make individual sales calls, so he begins advertising in local newspapers and operating a makeshift mail-order service. He uses the local milk van to deliver products to the nearby train station.
Furniture is introduced into the IKEA range
The furniture is produced by local manufacturers in the forests close to Ingvar Kamprad's home. The response is positive and the line expands.
The first IKEA catalogue is published
IKEA founder sees the opportunity to sell furniture on a larger scale using a catalogue. The IKEA catalogue that we know today is born.
Furniture showroom opens in Älmhult, Sweden
This is an important moment in the development of the IKEA concept - for the first time customers can see and touch IKEA home furnishings before ordering them. The showroom is born out of a price war with a main competitor of IKEA. As both companies lowered prices, quality was threatened. By opening the showroom, IKEA clearly demonstrates the function and quality of its low-price products. The innovation is a success; people wisely choose the products with the best value for money.
Designing furniture for flat packs and self-assembly
The decision for IKEA to design its own furniture stems, ironically from competitors pressure for suppliers to boycott IKEA. Exploration of flat packaging begins when one of the first IKEA co-workers removes the legs of the LÖVET table so that it will fit into a car and avoid damage during transit. After this discovery flat packs and self assembly become part of the concept.
The first IKEA store opens in Sweden
The first IKEA store in Älmhult has 6,700 square metres of home furnishings! At the time, it is the largest furniture display in Scandinavia.
Gillis Lundgren designs the TORE drawer unit
While visiting an IKEA kitchen manufacturer, one of the earliest co-workers at IKEA, Gillis Lundgren, notes the simple, practical storage ideas being used in IKEA kitchens and is inspired to apply the same thinking throughout the home. As soon as he gets back to Älmhult, he sits down and designs the TORE drawer unit.