Today, IKEA reaches millions of hearts and homes all over the world, but every success story has to start somewhere. Did you know that IKEA once was as a tiny business in Älmhult, a small Swedish village in the countryside, selling through a mail-order catalogue? And that the IKEA headquarters for design are still located there? Here’s our story.
Ingvar Kamprad founded IKEA in 1943 at the age of 17, selling household goods like pens, wallets and picture frames. Småland, the landscape where Ingvar grew up, was stony and rugged. Back then, many of the inhabitants had to get by with small means, making as much as possible with next to nothing. Because of this, Smålanders are said to be thrifty and innovative, with a “no-nonsense” approach to everyday problem solving. This heritage is one explanation to the IKEA way of doing things and to our success.
The development of the IKEA logo over the years:
Did you know? IKEA is named after the initials of founder Ingvar Kamprad, Elmtaryd, the farm on which he grew up, and Agunnaryd, the nearby village.”
The IKEA catalogue
Because Älmhult, the town where IKEA was founded, is in a rather remote area of Sweden, it was difficult to reach potential customers in the bigger cities. Due to this, the IKEA catalogue was born in 1951, and Ingvar had already decided IKEA should sell good furniture at low prices:
Why are beautiful products only made for a few buyers? It must be possible to offer good design and function at low prices.”
– Ingvar Kamprad
The first IKEA showroom
The first IKEA showroom
The prices in the first IKEA catalogue were so low that people were initially sceptical about the quality of the products, so Ingvar decided to convert an old workshop in Älmhult into a showroom where people could look at and try products before ordering.
How the flat-pack idea was born
Mail order distribution of bulky furniture was difficult and expensive, and products often got damaged. In 1956 we got the idea to take the legs off the LÖVET table, which led to the idea of self-assembly and flat packing.
Today LÖVET is back at IKEA, now named LÖVBACKEN. A little table that contributed to a great idea.
We love challenges!
Throughout our history, our best ideas have come from our biggest challenges, and we believe this is what makes us different. Today, IKEA is one of the most well-known home furnishing brands in the world and, if we include the many thousands employed by our suppliers, around one million people is working with us to make our vision to create a better everyday life for the many people become reality. And this is just the beginning. Like Ingvar Kamprad used to say, “Most things still remain to be done. A glorious future!”