Ingvar Kamprad introduced us to furniture in flat boxes and gave us hours of “puzzle fun” to create a closet. The inventor of DIY furniture and the founder of furniture chain IKEA has passed away in Sweden, aged 91.
Avarice as an art
Ingvar Kamprad opened his first furniture store when he was 17. Apparently, it was at that time he came up with the idea to put furniture in flat boxes after seeing an employee take off a table’s legs to fit it into a car. At least, that is how the story goes, because the flat boxes were probably introduced to lower transport costs.
Kamprad elevated avarice into an art. The Swede prided himself on his frugal lifestyle: in a 2016 interview, the multi billionaire expressed his pride at wearing second-hand clothing. The IKEA name is also one of his design: Ingvar Kamprad and the Elmtaryd farm where he grew up in Agunnaryd were the basis for the name.
He withdrew from the board aged 87, in 2013, always flew economy class and was known for his old Volvo. He felt frugality was part of his birth region, Småland in Sweden, where he resided and died.
Those local values were the foundation for the IKEA empire, with simplicity and low prices as its core values. The chain launched in 1943 and now has 389 locations in 49 countries. Ikea generated a 36.4 billion euro turnover in 2016 and employs nearly 200,000 people. According to Bloomberg, Ingvar Kamprad was the eighth richest man alive, estimated at a 47 billion euro value.
Scandal surrounding nazis and taxes
Kamprad passed away on Sunday, surrounded by friends and family after a short illness, according to the furniture store chain’s press release. He is hailed as the largest Swedish entrepreneur ever and the Swedish Mnister of Foreign Affairs Margot Wallstrom tweeted that he put the country on the global stage.
Nevertheless, Kamprad also faced his scandals. He was an active member of two Swedish Nazi and far-right organizations during the Second World War and his company also faced backlash last year because of tax evasion allegations. The European Commission launched an investigation into the company after the European Green Party accused it of a 1 billion euro tax evasion scheme between 2009 and 2014. Officially, the company is part of a Dutch holding, owned by the Kamprad family.