Ingvar Kamprad, founder of the IKEA retail empire whose cheap, functional furniture is a feature of homes around the world, has died at the age of 91.
As much of a national symbol as pop group ABBA and tennis ace Bjorn Borg, IKEA helped to cement the image of Swedes as practical, egalitarian and unsnobbish. Born on March 30, 1926, Kamprad started by selling matches to neighbours at the age of five and soon expanded his range to include seeds, Christmas tree decorations, pencils and ball-point pens. He founded IKEA in 1943 when he was just 17, but didn’t hit gold until 1956, when the company introduced flat-pack furniture. The idea struck him as he watched an employee taking legs off a table to fit it into a customer’s car and realised that saving space meant saving money.