IKEA Says Founder Ingvar Kamprad Has Died at 91

Founder of Swedish furniture firm Ikea Ingvar Kamprad dead aged 91
Ikea founder dies: World's biggest furniture chain founder Ingvar Kamprad dead aged 91

30 January, 2018

Known for his humble style and nearly religious devotion to simplicity and efficiency, Kamprad founded IKEA at the tender age of 17 and first sold matchboxes, fish, Christmas tree decorations, and pens. "He came from nowhere, but with help from his inner force, his ability and his will, he created something I think everyone is proud of when seeing Ikea out in the world", Swedish banker and industrialist Jacob Wallenberg told financial daily Dagens Industri.

The name comes from Mr Kamprad's initials (IK), the farm he grew up on called Elmtaryd (E) and a nearby village named Agunnaryd (A). "He lived in Switzerland to avoid Sweden's high taxes, drove an old Volvo, flew only economy class, stayed in budget hotels, ate cheap meals, shopped for bargains and insisted that his home was modest, that he had no real fortune and that Ikea was held by a charitable trust", writes Robert D. McFadden for the New York Times.

He founded Ikea in 1943 at age 17 with the money his father gave him as a reward for his stellar grades.

Who is Ingvar Kamprad and how did Ikea become one of the most loved furniture brands?

Past year (2017), the European Commission announced that it had launched an investigation into Ikea's tax deals in the Netherlands.

A customer signs a book of condolences at the entrance of an IKEA store in Stockholm.

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Kamprad later said that it was "a part of my life which I bitterly regret" but his "Nazi past followed [him] ... to his death", Derek Hawkins reports for the Washington Post, detailing both the charges against him as well as his - and others' - defense of what he claimed was an indiscretion of his youth. While Sweden was neutral during the war, its Nazi party remained active after the war. His early success arose from squeezing his prices to undercut more established competitors. The first mail order catalogue was launched in 1951.

Employees prepare pictures for a display featuring Ingvar Kamprad at the IKEA museum, in Almhult, Sweden.

Ikea's revolutionary self-assembly model - which would cut transport and storage costs - was conceived in 1956 after an employee suggested table legs be removed so the package would fit into a auto.

"He wanted to appear a man of the people, one of us", Stenebo wrote in a behind-the-scenes book, "The Truth About Ikea", released shortly after he left the company almost a decade ago.

"We have Småland in the blood, and we know what a krona is - even though it is not as much as it was when we bought candy and went to elementary school", he said, referring to the Swedish currency.

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