15 Ingenious Facts About IKEA

IKEA is one of the most recognizable home brands in the world.

Despite its global popularity, many people don't know some of the most fascinating and ingenious facts about IKEA.

If you want to know more about this famous brand, here are some insightful facts to boost your knowledge!


1. IKEA is one of the most successful furniture stores in the world.
In terms of both economic turnover and public profile, IKEA has seen huge success through the years.
It is one of the most well-known furniture stores in both the United States and the United Kingdom. Millions of people visit dozens of stores across the world every year.
The low prices of IKEA's products are believed to be a key factor in its success. Using new materials, packing methods, and transportation, IKEA has been able to keep costs down and build its customer base for decades.

2. IKEA originated in Sweden in 1943.
It started in 1943 as a mail-order business based out of a farm in Småland, a rural part of Sweden. Customers received their items in the mail.
The aim of IKEA was to improve the lives of other people by providing affordable and quality items.

3. IKEA's founder was a teenager.
IKEA was founded by 17-year-old Ingvar Kamprad, whose father gave him some money as a reward for doing well in school.
He originally started a business selling pens, wallets, and other everyday goods. Five years later, he expanded to include furniture and developed the popular IKEA brand.

4. IKEA's name was born from its founder and hometown.
The name "IKEA" combines three elements – its founder's name (Ingvar Kamprad), the family farm (Elmtaryd), and the local parish (Agunnaryd). Put these four initials together, and you will get the name "IKEA."
Ingvar Kamprad chose this name for his business from the very beginning. From the early days of mail orders, customers knew they were shopping at IKEA.

5. The first IKEA store opened in 1958.
Fifteen years after Ingvar Kamprad began shipping items via mail order, the first IKEA store opened in Sweden. It was located in Älmhult, where Ingvar Kamprad was born.
This town later became home to the IKEA Museum, giving visitors a chance to learn about the history and story of IKEA.

6. The average size of an IKEA store is 300,000 feet.
That is the equivalent of 42 tennis courts. The world's largest Ikea is in Stockholm and covers a whopping 594,000 sq ft.

7. In 2023, the number of IKEA co-workers worldwide amounted to 219,000. This is an increase of around 68,000 staff members compared to 2013.

8. The IKEA Catalog arrived in 1950.
The iconic IKEA Catalog came into existence even before the first IKEA store opened. It allowed customers to browse items to find ideas and inspiration and later became available online.
The IKEA Catalog goes out to over 180 million people in 29 different languages annually, compared to around 100 million bibles. The Catalog has been in existence since 1951, rumoured to take up nearly 70 per cent of the marketing budget.
The IKEA Catalog was published annually until 2020. Although the Catalog was discontinued after 70 years, customers can still browse a range of brochures on the IKEA website.

9. IKEA furniture is named after real places, names, and Swedish words.
If you have ever been shopping at IKEA, you have probably noticed that each item has a unique name.
This is part of IKEA's fascinating marketing strategy, but there is also an important reason behind it. Ingvar Kamprad had dyslexia and struggled to remember numbers.

10. Flatpack furniture was popularized by IKEA.
Flatpack furniture was already around by the 1950s in other parts of the world, but a man named Gillis Lundgren boosted its popularity.
While working for IKEA, Gillis Lundgren had the bright idea of taking the legs off a table when it wouldn't fit into his car. This was the beginning of IKEA's flatpack furniture that we are familiar with today.
Flatpack furniture solved many of the issues that came with mail orders, such as damaged goods and high transport costs. Customers could now receive their items in perfect condition, and IKEA could continue to keep prices low.
The first item of IKEA flat-pack furniture was the Lovet, a leaf-shaped side table, which first appeared in the 1956 catalogue.

11. IKEA prides itself on being affordable, not cheap.
The price tag comes first. To ensure this is always the case the design team work backwards from a price tag – determining a price to meet, designing and sourcing materials to make that price possible.

12. Coffee and biscuits marked the start of the IKEA restaurant journey.
When Ingvar Kamprad opened the doors on his first furniture showroom in Älmhult back in 1953, he wanted to offer visitors coffee and a biscuit – a new phenomenon in the thrifty county of Småland back then. And it was a huge success. The queues were long, and when the biscuits started running out there was something of a panic.
Ingvar Kamprad had made an important discovery: visitors with full stomachs stay longer and buy more.
By 1958, a small "coffee corner" opened, which proved to be a success and later turned into the iconic IKEA restaurant.

13. The "IKEA Bar" has served hot meals since 1960.
The small coffee shop that opened in 1958 expanded in 1960 when the first IKEA Baren, or "IKEA Bar," opened. Alongside coffee and cold dishes, the restaurant also began to offer hot dishes, such as chicken.

14. Pennsylvania was the first U.S. state to welcome IKEA.
The first IKEA store in the United States opened in 1985. Situated in Plymouth Meeting, the new store attracted 150,000 customers every week.
A year after it opened, the New York Times reported that $2 million had been spent on promoting the store.
After planting its roots in Pennsylvania, another IKEA store opened in Woodbridge, Virginia, in 1986. Dozens more IKEA stores have opened since.

15. IKEA's founder lived to the ripe old age of 91.
IKEA's founder, Ingvar Kamprad, passed away in his home county of Småland – the place where his famous story first began.
Ingvar Kamprad left part of his estate to his sons, Peter, Jonas, and Mathias, and his adopted daughter, Annika.
He left half his estate to support the development of Norrland, the northern part of Sweden. His wish was that young people could live and thrive here and not be forced to leave to find work elsewhere.

IKEA: employee count worldwide 2013-2023
IKEA - Heritage
IKEA - Flatpack history
IKEA Museum - Visit
Statista - Number of IKEA stores
IKEA - Milestones
IKEA - Catalogues
IKEA Museum - World's biggest restaurant
Statista - IKEA
Sticky Branding
The Local
Wall Street Journal
Image credit: IKEA