The History of IKEA Innovations

Very few companies have such an inspiring history of innovations as IKEA.  It is an honor to take part in it and build upon the legacy that Ingvar Kamprad left behind.

Welcome to this little tribute of publicly known innovations over the last 78 years. For those who scroll all the way to the bottom... (drumroll.....) please enjoy some featured Ingvar quotes.

1943

IKEA is founded

Even as a young boy, Ingvar Kamprad knows he wants to develop a business. He takes his first step to becoming a businessman at age 5 when he decides to sell matches. From there he moves on to selling Christmas cards, seeds and pens to neighbours on his bike. At the age of 17 he set up a company. He names it IKEA: an abbreviation of Ingvar Kamprad from Elmtaryd (the family farm), Agunnaryd (the local parish).

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1950

The IKEA Catalogue makes its debut

A future icon, the first annual IKEA home furnishing catalogue is published in Sweden.

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1953

Say Hi to the flat pack

High costs and damage rates when transporting furniture via mail order are a constant thorn in Ingvar’s side. Although flat-pack furniture already exists, it hasn’t really taken off in Sweden yet. It takes a demonstration by IKEA supplier Ovendals in Hultsfred of a very stable flat-pack table for this to change. Flat-pack, self-assembly products become the solution to the transportation struggle, and the rest is history.

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1960

The first IKEA restaurant opens

In June 1960, only coffee and cold dishes are offered in IKEA stores. By the end of the year, the IKEA restaurant kitchen is fully equipped, including a microwave oven – a novelty at the time. Everything from hot snacks such as hamburgers to á la carte dishes are served. The idea comes from something Ingvar observes: people leave the store at lunchtime to eat in one of the restaurants or street kitchens in Älmhult. This interrupts the whole buying process. He realises that hungry customers buy less. Or as we often say, it’s tough to do business on an empty stomach.

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1963

Hej Norway!

The first IKEA store outside Sweden opens in Norway.

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1965

The flagship IKEA store opens

The Kungens Kurva store outside of Stockholm opens its doors. It’s the largest furniture store in Northern Europe at the time, and the store’s design is inspired by the Guggenheim museum in New York. Its location is strategic — it’s easy to reach by car and has plenty of parking spaces.

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1970

The “miracle” fire that changes everything

An electrical fault causes a sign on the roof of the flagship IKEA store to catch fire in September 1970, causing a lot of damage. It isn’t all bad news though. It is also the beginning of something new. In the chaos following the fire, we open a self-service area, which turns out to be a roaring success. By the time the store re-opens in 1971, most products can be picked up in the self-service area, driven home and assembled by our customers.

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1973

Hej Europe!

The first IKEA store outside of Scandinavia is established in Spreitenbach, Switzerland, soon followed by stores in Germany.

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1974

IKEA Corner in Japan

In 1974 IKEA products are sold in a sort of mini-IKEA store called “IKEA Corner” through a joint-venture with a Japanese retailer. However, the IKEA franchise system is not yet developed, and cooperation difficulties lead to the end of the Japanese business in 1983. In a second attempt 20 years later things go more successful, which just goes to show that good things happen if you try and try again.

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1995

Democratic Design is Launched

The term “Democratic Design” is used for the first time during the furniture fair in Milan in 1995. “I’ll never forget the feeling of seeing that statement on the billboards and trams of Milan during the fair. I sat outside drinking Campari and watching the trams go past bearing the words `Il design democratico – IKEA´”, explains Per Hahn, an archivist at the IKEA Museum in Älmhult.

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1996

Encouraging Brits to ”chuck out the chintz”

IKEA's 1996 advertising campaign, telling British shoppers to "chuck out their chintz", transformed attitudes to design. According to Naresh Ramchandani, who wrote the slogan, the campaign ushered in a new era of contemporary design to the average British household.

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1998

Sow a seed launches

In 1983, a forest fire destroys 18,500 hectares of rainforest in Malaysian Borneo. When Ingvar Kamprad, hears about it he wants to contribute to the rainforests regeneration. So, in 1998, we begin financing the “Sow a seed” project, leading to more than 12,500 hectares of rainforest being replanted.

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2012

The TV everyone’s been waiting for. Or not

The IKEA UPPLEVA TV is appreciated for its design and even its sound, but the actual TV part…not so much. Needless to say, UPPLEVA is phased out of the product range and we are reminded of the importance of bringing in expert help.

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2013

Social Entrepreneur partnership – for long-lasting change

Built on our vision to create a better everyday for the many people IKEA has partnered with social entrepreneurs since 2013. Through the partnership over 20 000 jobs have been created for people who need it the most – vulnerable and marginalised groups who have difficulties getting into the labour market. It's about making a positive social impact on people and society, creating long lasting change.

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2014

Plan and buy your Kitchen online

In 2014 IKEA launched online kitchen planner on ikea.com To plan a kitchen that really works for you and your family you need to know a lot about functional layouts and optimal kitchen designs. The service gives step by step service on important things you need to consider when planning your dream kitchen, including where (and where not) to place the oven, the benefits of using the working triangle and how to make the most of your space.

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2014

Exploring Augmented Reality

Exploring Augmented Reality

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2014

The first Life at home report

We start using a new method of exploring life at home: a mix of our own research and interviews. The first report focuses on morning routines. We interview a total of 8,292 respondents aged between 18 and 60 in 8 cities. We find out all kinds of things – for example, we learn that 52% of Berliners interviewed press the snooze button at least once, and 36% snooze more than once.

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2014

Plan and buy your Kitchen online

In 2014 we launch our online kitchen planner on ikea.com To plan a kitchen that really works for you and your family you need to know a lot about functional layouts and optimal kitchen designs. The service gives step by step service on important things you need to consider when planning your dream kitchen, including where (and where not) to place the oven, the benefits of using the working triangle and how to make the most of your space.

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2015

The M-Board made of 90% recycled paper

Since IKEA works a lot with board material, it’s an area in which innovative thinking goes a long way. M-Board (miljöskiva in Swedish) means environmental board – is a new lightweight material made solely out of paper, and yet it has the same strength as classic board materials. The M-Board production line give less costs, uses about half the energy of other board production lines, creating far less stress on the environment.

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2015

All-in with LED

As of September 2015, halogen and energy-saving compact fluorescent bulbs are no longer available and the switch is made to light-emitting diodes (LEDs) for all lighting sold globally.

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2016

The Wedge Dowel

The Wedge Dowel was invented by prototype engineers at the IKEA pattern shop in Älmhult, Sweden. A click-technique that drastically reduces time taken to assemble and disassemble IKEA furniture, as used in the LISABO table series.

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2017

IKEA Place app presented at Apple WWDC

In a partnership with Apple, IKEA announces the launch of IKEA Place, an augmented reality (AR) application that lets people confidently experience, experiment and share how good design transforms any space, such as a home, office, school or studio. From sofas and armchairs to coffee tables, all of the products in IKEA Place are 3D and true to scale so that every choice is just the right size, design and function. Now people can do more than just place furniture; they can get smart home furnishing tips and recommendations based on curation, context and behaviour.

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2017

Home smart lighting

Launch of smart lighting from IKEA - giving you the power to turn on and off, dim, and change the color of the lights throughout your home remotely.

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2017

Furniture with wireless charging

Wireless charging – also known as induction charging – powers up mobile devices by using an electromagnetic field to transfer energy. The charging pads in IKEA's furniture were developed by specialist technology company Qi. Devices with embedded Qi technology – which currently include models by Google Nexus, HTC, Samsung and Nokia – will already by compatible with the furniture products.

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2018

IKEA and Sonos collaborate to create future home sound experience

The exploration of sound is the third step for IKEA Home Smart. A year later the first series are launched. There’s no doubt about it, SYMFONISK table lamp is the loudest lamp by IKEA so far, designed to make it possible to furnish with sound.

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2018

The Hot dog welcomes a new vegetarian friend

On the mission to inspire people to a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle through food that has a positive impact on both people and the planet, the Veggie Hot dog is launched. Adding the veggie hotdog to the food offer is contributing to IKEA Food’s goal to include more plant-based ingredients in the range at affordable prices, and most importantly it is delicious.

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2018

Meet GUNRID – the air purifying curtain

Air is a precondition for life. With the development of air cleaning textiles, IKEA wants to help people to a better life at home through cleaner air. “For me, it’s important to work on products that are relevant to people, and products that are actually solving a problem. I believe that everyone deserves to breathe clean air” says Product Developer Mauricio Affonso.

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2018

Co-creation of Furniture with the public

It started with rough sketches based on what kind of solutions people wanted for their balconies and other small outdoor spaces. This was the beginning of the co-created trellis bench SVANÖ – and for the very first time the public were invited to work with the prototype.

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2018

Being smarter by being circular

We want to meet the customers with different service solutions, helping our consumers not to feel wasteful and be able to prolong the life of already existing products. Seeing waste as a resource leads to launch of successful products such as KUGGIS, TPNIS, ODGER, IKEA PS Vase, TOMAT and VALLENTUNA.

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2019

IKEA Small store format for big cities, first off Paris

The new IKEA Small store format makes IKEA more accessible by bringing the offer and IKEA brand closer to the many people where they are. There is no Self-serve furniture area, owned parking or warehouse. The store design solution is context-based, flexible and scalable. IKEA Small stores enable both planned and spontaneous visits.

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2019

Drones to automate warehouse inventory

Picture drones that take off from a charging station and go from pallet to pallet collecting images, videos and 3D depth scan data. After flying around racks and pallets, the drones fly back to the charging station to download all the data they collected. Algorithms then extract actionable insights. Drones now identify missing or wrong pallets and check inventory, secure availability for our customers and create a better ergonomic workplace for our co-workers.

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2019

ROGNAN robotic furniture for small space living

Cities are booming and at the same time living spaces are shrinking. Together with Ori, IKEA is exploring flexible and innovative solutions that empower people to have big dreams for small homes, introducing ROGNAN robotic furniture. Turn small spaces into smart spaces that have all the comfort and convenience of a home.

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2020

IKEA & Lego launch BYGGLEK

The IKEA and LEGO brands teamed up to create a range of simple, functional storage solutions with so many possibilities. BYGGLEK allows kids escape into their own imaginations.

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2020

Electric vehicle charging

More than 75% of the IKEA stores owned and operated by Ingka Group, about 300 stores across the world, now have electric vehicle charging points.

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2020

BuyBack Friday gives thousands of pieces of furniture a new life

During this year’s Black Friday Week, many Ingka Group countries around the world ran the BuyBack Friday campaign, inviting customers to return their IKEA products they no longer need, and in return get a voucher to spend on something they really need.

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2020

Introducing a plant ball for meat lovers

A more sustainable alternative to the iconic IKEA meatball is rolled out in IKEA Restaurants.

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2020

Zero emissions from home delivery in Shanghai

Reaching 100% zero emissions for last-mile-home delivery is one of many steps towards meeting our climate targets and contributing to the elimination of global warming. Shanghai is our first city to reach the goal. “In Shanghai, we are managing more than 900 daily home deliveries, and we are proud to say we have already reached our goal of using only electric vehicles to make all home deliveries,” says Ken Zhong, Service Fulfilment Operations Manage, China.

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2020

First hub for co-creation of IKEA products and services

A Co-create hub where customers, partners and new startups can come together to interact, experience and co-create products and services for a people and planet positive tomorrow is launched. We want to engage with the many in meaningful ways that inspire and enable them to make habitual change in the service of a better future for people and the planet,” says Kasper Risbjerg, Innovation Leader, Ingka Group

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2020

The world’s first Second-hand IKEA Pop-up store opens in Sweden

IKEA takes a step forward in its journey to become a circular business by 2030, with the opening of its first world’s first second-hand pop-up store in Eskilstuna, Sweden. The pop-up store is located in the ReTuna Shopping Centre, where all products sold are reused or recycled.

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2020

Partners with Alibaba to open the first virtual IKEA store on Tmall

IKEA and Alibaba announce the opening of the IKEA virtual store on the Alibaba e-commerce platform Tmall. The partnership with Alibaba enables IKEA to become more accessible for the many people in China and allows IKEA to test and learn how to meet customers in a new way.

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"The word impossible has been and must remain deleted from our dictionary"

Ingvar Kamprad

“Simplicity and common sense should characterize planning and strategic direction.”

Ingvar Kamprad

"What is good for our customers is also in the long run good for us"

Ingvar Kamprad

"Only those who are asleep make no mistakes"

Ingvar Kamprad

"Time is your most important resource. You can do so much in ten minutes. Ten minutes; once gone is gone for good."

Ingvar Kamprad

“By always asking why we are doing this or that, we can find new paths.”

Ingvar Kamprad

“Happiness is not reaching your goal. Happiness is being on the way.”

Ingvar Kamprad

“The most dangerous poison is the feeling of achievement. The antidote is to every evening think what can be done better tomorrow.”

Ingvar Kamprad

“How can I ask people who work for me to travel cheaply if I am traveling in luxury?

Ingvar Kamprad

"Planning is often synonymous with bureaucracy. Planning is, of course, needed to lay out guidelines for your work and to enable a company to function in the long term. But do not forget that exaggerated planning is the most common cause of corporate death. Exaggerated planning constrains your freedom of action and leaves you less time to get things done. Complicated planning paralyses. So let simplicity and common sense guide your planning"

 

Ingvar Kamprad

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"The fear of making mistakes is the root of bureaucracy and the enemy of development"