Ingvar Kamprad founded his own company IKEA at the age of 17 back in 1943. IKEA stands for Ingvar Kamprad Elmtaryd Agunnryd – where the last names are the farm and the village in Småland where he grew up. IKEA was from start a trading company, and Kamprad imported pens, watches, and nylons which he then sent in packages to his customers who had made their order through brochures. A cost-effective and simple distribution was the most important for Kamprad’s business idea.
Later, when Kamprad experienced problems with his import licenses, he decided to invest in furniture. Småland was a province riddled with carpenters and furniture factories. In 1948 the first furniture from IKEA was advertised, and it soon became the major focus of the mail order company. Since the company was situated close to the factories and workshops making the furniture, the distributions cost where low.
Five years later, in 1953, IKEA opended the first showroom where the costumers could see and test the furniture before buying them. The showroom was situated in Älmhult, still the place form IKEA's head quarters. In 1956 the company’s flat package was released, when the legs on the table Lövet (now Lövbacken) was taken off to enable smaller packaging and self-assembly.
Kamprad’s ideas became so successful, that other Swedish companies started a boycott. When they also began to threaten the furniture suppliers, IKEA and Kamprad was in big trouble. To solve the situation Kamprad started working together with Polish furniture companies. The Polish collaboration became very successful with chairs such as Ögla from 1960. After the fall of the Soviet Union, all commerce with Poland stopped and IKEA had to start their own production by buying up other manufactures and source their products from a wide number of countries.
Ingvar Kamprad is not to be called a furniture designer, but designed the VIP-three legged stool (Very Important Product) for Habitat in 2000. Kamprad has claimed that he took inspiration from the milking stools in his childhood's Småland. The VIP stool is a part of the collection at the Museum of Furniture Studies.
Ingvar Kamprad became honorary doctor at Lund University and Växjö University and received H.M. The King’s Medal in the 12th size as well as the Gold Medal from the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences. From 1988, Kamprad did no longer have an operative role in IKEA but his influence lasted until his death in 2018 at the age of 91.