Most people probably don’t want to think about how many hours they’ve spent trying (and failing) to navigate the fluorescent maze that calls itself “Ikea.” The Swedish superstore is filled to the brim with amazingly affordable home decor, storage solutions and meatballs (which, sadly, are no longer sold online). To make the shopping experience less overwhelming for the everyday shopper, we combed through the retailer’s entire online inventory to curate some of its best products.
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The History of Ikea
While you probably first heard of Ikea back in the 2000s when one suddenly showed up in your nearest suburb and began slinging meatballs and flat-packing furniture with hard-to-pronounce names, the company has been around a whole lot longer than that.
Ikea was founded by Swedish entrepreneur Ingvar Kamprad in 1943 when he was just 17 years old. He named the company after himself and his family farm: Ingvar Kamprad from Elmtaryd, Agunnaryd. Five years later, he produced his first piece of furniture, and right from the start, it was affordably priced. In 1950, Ikea published its first catalog, and its first showroom debuted in 1953. That same year, Ikea began flat-packing its furniture for customers to assemble themselves. While they weren’t the first to do so, their commitment to the system eventually led to a revolution in the industry while becoming a defining trait of the brand.
Another defining Ikea trait, in-store restaurants, debuted in 1960, with the idea being that customers wouldn’t have to leave the store before making a purchase if they got hungry. In 1963, Ikea opened its first store outside of Sweden in neighboring Norway, and 22 years later, the global furniture store made its U.S. debut in Pennsylvania. Today, Ikea operates 52 American locations.
More recent years have seen Ikea take risks by branching out into other areas of the home outside of furniture, with varying levels of success. Its much-ballyhooed Uppleva TV was a notorious flop in 2012, but the Symfonisk line of speakers it’s been producing in collaboration with Sonos since 2019 has been much better received. Today's Ikea catalog is filled with smart home accessories, LED lighting and air purifiers in addition to every type of furniture imaginable.
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