Ingvar Kamprad: The man who helped Britain “Chuck out their Chintz”

It’s the end of an era for IKEA.

Ingvar Kamprad, the fascinating billionaire who drove the same ageing Volvo for over 20 years, was best known as the founder of interior giant IKEA. His recent passing made the design world stop a moment and reflect.  His death has been a chance to take stock of the legacy and contribution he has left behind.

Internationally reknowned Kampard, started his company from humble beginnings on his family farm in 1943, aged just 17. He has now left not only a huge legacy, but a whole new lifestyle.

Ingvar Kamprad Ikea Blog 1Source: Google

Kamprad’s family farm called Elmtaryd was situated in Smaland, Sweden, near the village of Agunnaryd. When creating his brand, using his characteristic entrepreneurial spirit, Ingvar simply took his initials, IK, along with those of the farm and the village, to create one of the most famous brand names across the globe, IKEA.

The companies reach has grown exponentially over the years, and is now well established as a market leader, in low-cost, well thought out design.  Whilst the name has become internationally renowned, we’re going to look at Britain’s relationship with IKEA.

Ingvar Kamprad Ikea Blog 2Source: BBC (Ikea’s first UK store opened in Warrington in 1987)

Despite IKEA’s first UK store opening in 1987, they struggled to make a big impact on the UK market. Consumers were still suspicious of the low-priced, modern furniture concept created by Kamprad. However, in 1996 an advert appeared encouraging British housewives to declutter and “Chuck out that Chintz”.  This campaign had an almost immediate effect, it connected perfectly with IKEA’s target audience and monopolised on the mood of change within Britain at that time.  Following this, Britain was ready to embrace the world of ‘Scandi-Chic’ wholeheartedly.

Watch the 1996 IKEA advert below:

Since 1996, Britain has never looked back.  Visiting an IKEA store has become an idiosyncratic past time, that is very much part and parcel of British life.  I would guess there is hardly a home in the land that hasn’t had some experience of the famous ‘BILLY’ bookcase.

IKEA’s design philosophy was part of Kamprad’s very being, a man who believed in frugal, simple living.  Often stating that his thriftiness came from his upbringing in Smaland, and that it was part of the nature of the people there.  Ingvar Kamprad’s instinct for being prudent was to become the corner stone of the business.  His passion was to bring, affordable yet stylish design to British homes.  The approach was to keep designs the best they could be, but at a price that was accessible to all.

IKEA’s philosophy meant introducing the country to flat-pack furniture.  The concept allowed consumers to go to store, pick out their chosen item, take it home and build it, all in the same day.  It’s now safe to say that Kamprad’s concept worked.  Many of us will have spent bank holiday weekends, following the pictorial flat-pack assembly instructions lead by IKEA’s little man and his Allen key.

As IKEA continues to grow, let’s reflect on some key pieces that feature in their top 10 products:

BILLY Bookcase:

With it’s clean, simple lines, variety of sizes and unbeatable low price, it’s clear to see why this multi-use shelving unit is a firm favourite.

Ingvar Kamprad Ikea Blog 3Source: Ikea

POANG Chair:

The POANG’s unique design, made to combine comfort, space saving and affordability propelled it to popularity. The signature design allows everyone from those with limited space or a smaller budgets to those favouring minimal design, to enjoy comfortable seating.

Ingvar Kamprad Ikea Blog 4Source: Ikea

MALM Bed:

The MALM Bed is another perfect example of IKEA’s iconic simple design. By keeping things simple and practical, classic pieces such a this bed appeal to almost anyone.

Ingvar Kamprad Ikea Blog 5 (hooperprojects)Source: Hooperprojects.com

KALLAX (formerly EXPEDIT):

IKEA also bought with it endless solutions to storage, even for those with not wanting to spend a fortune. KALLAX, formerly EXPEDIT is a perfect example of this.

Ingvar Kamprad Ikea Blog 6Source: Ikea

LUDDE Sheepskin Rug:

The smallest item on the list, but no less recognisable is the LUDDE Sheepskin Rug. This long time top pick is the perfect ‘nod’ to Kamprad’s Scandinavian roots.

Ingvar Kamprad Ikea Blog 7Source: Ikea

STOCKHOLM Rug:

The STOCKHOLM rug is a newer addition to the list, and while it isn’t as instantly recognisable as some of the other items, it definitely captures all of IKEA’s trademark style.

Ingvar Kamprad Ikea Blog 8Source: Ikea

LACK Table:

Much like the BILLY range, LACK’s success is down to it’s simplicity, function and cost. Three key factors IKEA manages every time.

Ingvar Kamprad Ikea Blog 9Source: Ikea

EKTORP Sofa:

It’s rare to find a stylish, comfortable sofa for under £600 and nearly impossible to find one you can take home with you that same day. EKTORP solves both of these issues. IKEA has also evolved the classic sofa with the times, now offering a L shaped design to meet demand.

Ingvar Kamprad Ikea Blog 10Source: Ikea

DOCKSTA Table:

DOCKSTA is a piece seen to fit an even wider range of spaces than even other items on the list. It’s understated design can speak for itself when paired with similarly simple chairs, or provide the perfect, quiet background to more statement seating.

Ingvar Kamprad Ikea Blog 11 (behangfabriek)Source: Behang Fabriek

KLIPPAN Sofa:

Any other sofa costing £160 would either be old and worn or extremely low quality. The clean lined KLIPPAN connected directly to IKEA’s early target audience of family allowing comfortable seating you don’t have to worry about.

Ingvar Kamprad Ikea Blog 12Source: Ikea

Whatever you might think of IKEA, and there are those who despise it, the retailer has become an integral part of how we furnish our homes. Kamprad’s influence and contribution to the way we make design decisions continues to be unrelenting.  Although we may have lost the creator, it’s safe to say, that his spirit will live on for many more years to come.

Thanks for reading!

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One Response

  1. My interest in interior design took off (literally) with IKEA. I discovered it in Switzerland shortly before it opened in the U.K. – and used to try to bring items back as cabin luggage. I got rather strange looks from cabin crew…. I’ve moved on a bit since, but I think IKEA and Habitat have to be responsible for one of the largest ever shifts in popular taste in the U.K.

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