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 renowned 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.
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.
Source: 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. We’re converted!
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.