Ingvar Kamprad, founder of IKEA, dies at 91

Ingvar Kamprad
© Ingvar Kamprad with early IKEA furniture

Ingvar Kamprad changed the industry, making good design affordable, accessible and desirable.

We have written previously about how in 1953, IKEA's designer Gillis Lundgren had a problem.

Gillis Lundgren was unable to wedge a table into the back of his car. In a bout of frustration, he either patiently unscrewed or feverishly sawed away the table’s legs (sources differ), but in any case, he went back to his employer with the idea for self-assembled furniture that packed flat for easy shipping. That employer happened to be the retailer Ikea. They created a table called the Lövet. And the rest is history.

His boss, the owner of IKEA, was Ingvar Kamprad, who died recently at the age of 91. He founded the store in the 1940s and built it into the largest furniture retailer in the world, with 412 stores in 49 countries.

The flatpack revolution sparked by IKEA changed the way people buy and use furniture; it became globalized, cheap to ship from factories around the world. It got cheaper, as delivery and assembly became the responsibility of the purchaser instead of the manufacturer.

The Swedish design aesthetic, which harkens directly back to painter Carl Larsson with a bit of Bauhaus modernity thrown in, took over the world.

This TreeHugger has often been critical of IKEA. Their stores were impossible to get to without a car; their quality was not great; it was so cheap that there was no incentive to recycle Grandma's sofa because it was cheaper to buy a new one than to rent a truck to move the old one.

But Ingvar Kamprad changed the industry, making good design affordable, accessible and desirable. Analyst Neil Saunders tells the Guardian that "it is no exaggeration to say that his innovative approach changed not just the furniture sector, but the way people decorated and led their lives at home."

Ingvar Kamprad, dead at 91.

Ingvar Kamprad, founder of IKEA, dies at 91
Ingvar Kamprad changed the industry, making good design affordable, accessible and desirable.

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