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It’s impossible to let this week pass by without reflecting on the impact Ingvar Kamprad, founder of IKEA, has had on the design of our homes and offices.

Kamprad passed away on 27 January at the age of 91, and we’d hazard a guess that everyone at BrandCulture has owned, or currently owns, several IKEA items. The media coverage of Ingvar’s life has been fascinating, so we thought we’d reflect on some of the lesser-known facts about IKEA, and its founder, in this week’s blog post.

IKEA mazes

As wayfinding designers, we cannot help but marvel at the success of IKEA’s boxy stores and floor plans – giant mazes that reveal objects you don’t really need around every corner, but are laid out in such a way that it’s almost impossible to leave without buying more than you meant to.

IKEA’s maze-like floor plans are an ingenious way of keeping customers trapped inside longer. There are exits and fire stairs, but IKEA’s cunning wayfinding designers make sure the exits are easy to miss – a strategy that’s as cruel as it is ingenious.


Long live print!

Online publication Quartz zoned in on IKEA’s infamous catalog, which ranks “alongside the Bible, the Koran, and Harry Potter as one of the world’s most-distributed books”.

A few fun facts: the catalog consumes 70% of IKEA’s annual marketing budget and takes 18 months to produce. IKEA consumes 1% of the global wood supply and 1% of the global cotton supply.


The IKEA effect

Whether you love or loathe flat packs and Allen keys, by outsourcing assembly to the customer, IKEA has managed to keep its prices low and bring affordable design to the masses.

And as a journalist wrote recently for The Telegraph in London: “This notion of clean and sensible design as a path to moral elevation is not trite, completely-knocked-down meatball philosophy: it’s true. Our designed environment affects behaviour profoundly.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Even the Duchess of Cambridge shops at IKEA

Princess Kate and Prince Wills have been enjoying a tour of Sweden this week, when the Duchess of Cambridge admitted they have some IKEA furnishings at Kensington Palace. If it’s good enough for Prince George and Princess Charlotte, it’s good enough for us, too.


Kamprad’s fortune falls to no one

Incredibly, IKEA’s global retail fortune is valued at $U58.7 billion, which will be inherited by … no one.

Decades ago, Ingvar put control of IKEA into a network of foundations and holding companies, which means his heirs will never have direct control (although we’ll bet they’re not poor, either).

What’s your favourite IKEA invention?

Even the most ferocious of design snobs admit there are certain IKEA designs they can’t help but admire. This week, we read lots of tributes – like this one in The Guardian – to IKEA’s cleverest, or most popular, designs.

From the boxy Lack coffee table with its uninspiring name, to the Billy bookcase (produced at a rate of one every three seconds!), to the Allemansrätten meatballs, let’s take a moment to reflect on Ingvar Kamprad and the story behind his incredible global empire.

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