It was the autumn of 1987, and a major cultural phenomenon was about to take place. In the town of Warrington, a furniture store with a strange name opened its doors – Ikea had arrived in the UK. Ikea was founded 60 years ago by a 17-year-old boy in an old shed in a rural Swedish garden. The name Ikea comes from the initials of the founder's name, Ingvar Kamprad, the farm where he grew up, Elmtaryd, and his home village, Agunnaryd.
Looking back now, it's easy to forget that the Swedish store was genuinely revolutionary. Before Ikea, anyone who wanted furniture at an affordable price which didn't look like their parents' could forget it. The choice was either save up and go to Habitat or buy something that looked like mum and dad's.
Interior designer Anne Hunter says “Ikea has changed the way we live, putting modern design within reach of millions of young people for the first time and, if we get tired of something, it's not the end of the world because it didn't cost a fortune”. Linton Scarborough, manager at the Straiton store, puts it this way: "It's all about the range; we have a wide range of well-designed, functional, home furnishing products at prices so low that many people can afford them.”
1.1 million customers around the world visit Ikea stores every day. In the UK, the business welcomes 110,000 visitors a day – that's almost 40 million every year. It cannot be denied that Ikea has changed the way we shop, and ensured that most of us have at least one of its products at home.