Cardboard box filled with kitchen items. Some items, including knives and pans, stand next to the box.
Kitchen equipment set
IKEA of Sweden
EUR 115

STARTBOX KÖK No 1 was launched in 1987 and contained 50 kitchen items, everything from ladle to frying pan, at a package price. It was a kind of start-up package that would cover all the basic needs in the kitchen when starting or restarting a home.

But already in 1980 Ingvar Kamprad’s great interest in cooking had led to kitchen-related collaborations. At a cooking event with famous Swedish chef Carl Butler in the kitchen at the IKEA Hotel in Älmhult in 1980, Ingvar announced that they would be making a cookbook together. And inspired by the wave of successful new shops in the UK and North America that sold ‘professional kitchen equipment’ for home chefs, Ingvar saw a business opportunity for IKEA. Product developer Sven-Arne Svensson and his team were given a challenge by Ingvar: Develop a cookshop! Designer Knut Hagberg at IKEA had previously been a chef, and was able to help out with product development and design. As was silversmith Carl-Gustaf Jahnsson, who had already designed the RONDO series for IKEA.

So the early years of the 1980s saw the gradual evolution of the kitchen range, and in 1984 Sven-Arne was given a new challenge by Ingvar which would lead to the STARTBOX product. All the contents in the box of basic equipment for a new kitchen had to be tested and approved in line with Swedish Consumer Agency regulations. Everything would be sold individually in the stores’ cookshop, but would also be part of a single package.

“Ingvar made it very clear that the startbox should be at least 25 to 30 per cent cheaper than buying the various items individually,” said Sven-Arne. “So the tricky bit was being able to communicate this to consumers when the product appeared in stores. That we sold the individual products if you didn’t need the whole box, but also sold the box far cheaper if you did. We then also made a similar box with glasses, crockery and cutlery, so we sold two boxes – one for the kitchen and one for the table.”

STARTBOX KÖK No 1 was launched in the 1987 IKEA catalogue at a price of 115 euro. Bought individually, the products would have cost 30 euro more. So Ingvar’s requested discount ended up being just over 20%.

IKEA had 17 different suppliers and 14 supply countries that delivered 50 items, which all had to be packed in one place.

“The startbox wasn’t finished until the final item was in place. And in the first five years we sold the box, we didn’t have a single quality-related return,” said Sven-Arne Svensson.