The Story of IKEA Main exhibition

The Story of IKEA

Main exhibition

Our main exhibition The Story of IKEA takes you from the very beginning at Ingvar Kamprad’s childhood farm home in Agunnaryd, to the first IKEA store in Älmhult and out into the world. The exhibition is divided into three sections: Our Roots, IKEA Through the Ages and The Many Sides of Ingvar Kamprad.


The exhibition not only tells the story of IKEA, but also looks at how society and life at home have changed since the 18th century.

Our Roots
So where does our principle of thrift come from? Here we take a closer look at our roots in the farming society of Småland in southern Sweden, and take you on a journey through Sweden’s development and our own history. In the 19th century, Småland was a poor province and thousands of people emigrated to America. Those who stayed behind struggled to put food on the table. This lean existence left its mark on Ingvar Kamprad.


Flowers on the Windowsill, Carl Larsson, 1894. The home of married couple Karin and Carl Larsson in Sundborn was something of an experimental workshop for the modern home. In his watercolours, Carl Larsson conveyed an idealised image of the family’s everyday life. Image: Nationalmuseum

The early 20th century saw the emergence of a new beauty ideal. Ellen Key’s vision of beauty for all and Karin and Carl Larsson’s light, spacious, child-friendly home laid the foundation for a more democratic, people-centred aesthetic. These ideas also made an impact internationally, particularly thanks to the Swedish Society of Crafts and Design’s campaigns for more beautiful everyday items.


Mass production of apartment housing in the post-war years created high demand for reasonably priced furniture. Image: Karl Heinz Hernried / The Nordic Museum

From the 1930s onwards, Sweden grew more prosperous. The ‘folkhem’ was a welfare programme that aimed to raise the living standards of the whole country. In just 50 years, Sweden was transformed into a modern, egalitarian nation. As prosperity increased, so too did the need for practical modern furniture. There was great optimism about the future. For Ingvar Kamprad and IKEA, the timing couldn’t have been better.


Explore and discover ten interiors showing how life at home has changed between the 1960s and 2010s.

IKEA Through the Ages

How do you create a better everyday life for the many people? By daring to think differently! Behind the IKEA you see today, there is an exciting and sometimes rebellious story of great determination, Småland stubbornness and a great affection for all those striving to improve their day-to-day lives. The IKEA Through the Ages section gives you a chance to get to know us. You will see the home changing over the decades in rooms that were typical of their time, and you will also find out what has shaped IKEA.


Ingvar Kamprad with the ÖGLA chair, 1965.

One of Ingvar Kamprad’s most important principles was to make good design accessible to the many people. And for IKEA, accessibility comes from low prices. Flat packs, smart distribution, large volumes, innovative production solutions and Småland thrift helped these low prices to become a reality. Today, we have a name for good design, functionality, quality and sustainability and low price – we call it Democratic Design. But the idea of democratising the furniture industry by charging low prices has been in our DNA from the very start.


The 1956 IKEA catalogue, motif by Gillis Lundgren. Gillis was employed to work on the catalogue, but then became a designer and the first product development manager at IKEA.

When the very first IKEA catalogue was issued, no-one could have had any idea that our catalogues would become one of the most widely distributed publications in the world. Ever since the 1950s, it has been our most important way of reaching people around the globe. These days, billions of people access inspiring room settings and facts about our furniture on our website and via our apps.


The exhibition includes a photo studio featuring the set of our latest catalogue cover. Seize the opportunity to have a photo taken of yourself on the cover of the IKEA catalogue when you come here!


Ingvar Kamprad in front of the Älmhult store, 1983.

The Many Sides of Ingvar Kamprad
Are you curious about Ingvar Kamprad and would like to know more about him? Here you can discover him from many different perspectives. You’ll meet him and his family, have a peek into his office and find out how he came to be an entrepreneur. You’ll also find out more about his charitable work, and see how he planned for IKEA and its survival into the future.


Ingvar Kamprad loved to work ‘on the floor’. Shown here with a co-worker during a 2007 visit to the store in Delft, The Netherlands.

In the films shown in the exhibition, Ingvar Kamprad talks about his family, early business activities, failures, struggles and opportunities. Ingvar was a natural entrepreneur who valued honesty and simplicity. He had a good head for business and was good at bringing his employees on board. He wasn’t afraid of making mistakes and encouraged his employees to take risks.


Ingvar Kamprad’s home office in Switzerland, recreated in the exhibition.

The Story of IKEA

Main exhibition

Our main exhibition The Story of IKEA takes you from the very beginning at Ingvar Kamprad’s childhood farm home in Agunnaryd, to the first IKEA store in Älmhult and out into the world. The exhibition is divided into three sections: Our Roots, IKEA Through the Ages and The Many Sides of Ingvar Kamprad.

Our Roots
So where does our principle of thrift come from? Here we take a closer look at our roots in the farming society of Småland in southern Sweden, and take you on a journey through Sweden’s development and our own history. In the 19th century, Småland was a poor province and thousands of people emigrated to America. Those who stayed behind struggled to put food on the table. This lean existence left its mark on Ingvar Kamprad.

The exhibition not only tells the story of IKEA, but also looks at how society and life at home have changed since the 18th century.

The early 20th century saw the emergence of a new beauty ideal. Ellen Key’s vision of beauty for all and Karin and Carl Larsson’s light, spacious, child-friendly home laid the foundation for a more democratic, people-centred aesthetic. These ideas also made an impact internationally, particularly thanks to the Swedish Society of Crafts and Design’s campaigns for more beautiful everyday items.

Flowers on the Windowsill, Carl Larsson, 1894. The home of married couple Karin and Carl Larsson in Sundborn was something of an experimental workshop for the modern home. In his watercolours, Carl Larsson conveyed an idealised image of the family’s everyday life. Image: Nationalmuseum

From the 1930s onwards, Sweden grew more prosperous. The ‘folkhem’ was a welfare programme that aimed to raise the living standards of the whole country. In just 50 years, Sweden was transformed into a modern, egalitarian nation. As prosperity increased, so too did the need for practical modern furniture. There was great optimism about the future. For Ingvar Kamprad and IKEA, the timing couldn’t have been better.

Mass production of apartment housing in the post-war years created high demand for reasonably priced furniture. Image: Karl Heinz Hernried / The Nordic Museum

IKEA Through the Ages

How do you create a better everyday life for the many people? By daring to think differently! Behind the IKEA you see today, there is an exciting and sometimes rebellious story of great determination, Småland stubbornness and a great affection for all those striving to improve their day-to-day lives. The IKEA Through the Ages section gives you a chance to get to know us. You will see the home changing over the decades in rooms that were typical of their time, and you will also find out what has shaped IKEA.

Explore and discover ten interiors showing how life at home has changed between the 1960s and 2010s.

One of Ingvar Kamprad’s most important principles was to make good design accessible to the many people. And for IKEA, accessibility comes from low prices. Flat packs, smart distribution, large volumes, innovative production solutions and Småland thrift helped these low prices to become a reality. Today, we have a name for good design, functionality, quality and sustainability and low price – we call it Democratic Design. But the idea of democratising the furniture industry by charging low prices has been in our DNA from the very start.

Ingvar Kamprad with the ÖGLA chair, 1965.

When the very first IKEA catalogue was issued, no-one could have had any idea that our catalogues would become one of the most widely distributed publications in the world. Ever since the 1950s, it has been our most important way of reaching people around the globe. These days, billions of people access inspiring room settings and facts about our furniture on our website and via our apps.

The 1956 IKEA catalogue, motif by Gillis Lundgren. Gillis was employed to work on the catalogue, but then became a designer and the first product development manager at IKEA.

The exhibition includes a photo studio featuring the set of our latest catalogue cover. Seize the opportunity to have a photo taken of yourself on the cover of the IKEA catalogue when you come here!

The Many Sides of Ingvar Kamprad
Are you curious about Ingvar Kamprad and would like to know more about him? Here you can discover him from many different perspectives. You’ll meet him and his family, have a peek into his office and find out how he came to be an entrepreneur. You’ll also find out more about his charitable work, and see how he planned for IKEA and its survival into the future.

Ingvar Kamprad in front of the Älmhult store, 1983.

In the films shown in the exhibition, Ingvar Kamprad talks about his family, early business activities, failures, struggles and opportunities. Ingvar was a natural entrepreneur who valued honesty and simplicity. He had a good head for business and was good at bringing his employees on board. He wasn’t afraid of making mistakes and encouraged his employees to take risks.

Ingvar Kamprad loved to work ‘on the floor’. Shown here with a co-worker during a 2007 visit to the store in Delft, The Netherlands.

Ingvar Kamprad’s home office in Switzerland, recreated in the exhibition.