Up until this moment in 1953 IKEA was a small Swedish mail order furniture business run by the entrepreneurial prodigy Ingvar Kamprad. His was not the creative spark. The story goes that Gillis Lundgren an IKEA draughtsman was picking up a table and it wouldn’t fit in the boot of his car so he unscrewed the legs and then reassembled the table when he had got to his home. The creative solution to his transportation problem had the potential to start a revolution. But only if it was shared.
Seeing the opportunity he introduced the deconstructed furniture concept to Ingvar Kamprad and provided him with the catalyst for Kamprad’s concept of design democratisation. This is a case where the solution informed the idea. Would IKEA have remained just a small Swedish mail order business without the flat pack? We will never know.
It is a fact that the creative solution came to Gillis Lundgren in a moment of inspiration but more importantly he had the presence of mind to see the potential. The creativity was captured - and this is important. An idea without context and connection is like a fire without oxygen. A spark without fuel does not make a fire. This would not be the first time that this creative solution had been employed but it was the first time it was going to be industrialised. Lundgren provided the spark, the entrepreneur Kamprad provided the idea and the Polish forests literally provided the wood to fuel it all.
Kamprad had the business ethos and the flat pack concept has made the IKEA brand a legend. From the first product, the Lovet Table (above) the product list has grown and now stands at 12,000 items. Ingvar Kamprad’s concept of democratic design and it’s love child the ubiquitous flat pack is applied to anything from furniture, houses, refugee shelters and most recently photo voltaic panels. The business is the largest furniture retailer in the world, transcending cultural boundaries to bring Swedish form and function to all.