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Ingvar Kamprad’s Ikea: A Curbed primer

The making of a global furniture empire

vintage Ikea catalog covers
Vintage Ikea catalog covers.

Whether you go for the affordable modern furniture or the famously delicious Swedish meatballs, Ikea is about as mainstream as a furniture brand can get. The world’s largest furniture retailer, Ikea has over 350 stores in 29 countries, and a host of products that have become household names (Malm! Billy! Kallax!).

Over the weekend, Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad passed away at the age of 91, leaving behind a global furniture empire that originally began as a mail-order home goods business in 1943. In the following decades, the decisions that helped keep Ikea prices low—remarkably simple design, flat-pack shipping, etc.—are also what customers have come to know and appreciate.

We’ve published all sorts of things about Ikea over the years, from a journey to its birthplace in Sweden to its U.S. influence to a dictionary of the company’s umlaut-laden product names. Highlights are compiled below for your reading convenience.

1. Visiting Älmhult, Sweden, where Ikea was born

© Inter IKEA Systems B.V. 2016

2. The 7 best penny-pinching ways of Ingvar Kamprad

3. One day at Ikea’s biggest store in the U.S.

Inside the largest Ikea store in the U.S.
Photo by Chris Mueller

4. How Ikea became America’s furniture-selling powerhouse

5. The Ikea cult shelf that a Curbed editor just can’t quit

The Kallax shelf.

6. Ikea product names, demystified

7. Toast over 30 years of Ikea in the U.S. with these vintage photos