News / Product Design

Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad has died aged 91

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Ingvar Kamprad, founder of Ikea, died on 27 January 2018 aged 91. Having started the company aged 17, he went on to pioneer flat-pack furniture – an innovation that would see the company revolutionise furniture design for the mainstream market, and become one of the best-known brands in the world.

Born in Sweden in 1926, he founded the company in 1943 as a mail-order firm selling household products such as picture frames and watches, before graduating to furniture. In 1951 he released the first Ikea catalogue, and in 1953 opened the first showroom. In 1956 he apparently saw an employee take the legs off a table to fit it into a customer’s car and saw the cost-saving benefits of storing furniture to be assembled by the owner. In 1958 he opened the first Ikea store, then the largest furniture store in Sweden.

It wasn’t until the 1970s it crossed to Europe, North America, Asia and the Middle East. Now it has 389 stores worldwide, and in 2016 reported total sales of €36.4bn. Kamprad retired in June 2013 aged 87, handing responsibilities to his son.

The company said in a statement that Kamprad “was a great entrepreneur of the typical southern Swedish kind – hardworking and stubborn, with a lot of warmth and a playful twinkle in his eye. He worked until the very end of his life, staying true to his own motto that most things remain to be done”.

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