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Blue and yellow Älmhult: where IKEA was born

Älmhult is the birthplace of renowned botanist Carl Linnaeus and children’s books author Astrid Lindgren, however its most famous ‘offspring’ is IKEA. Life in this southern Swedish town evolves around the blue-and-yellow furniture giant: from the IKEA Hotel and IKEA Museum to the IKEA Bar and IKEA Spa. Welcome to the one and only IKEA Småland – meatballs and ball pit included.

IKEA also offers beds that don’t require assembly. The 254 rooms at the IKEA Hotel feature IKEA furniture, and each nightstand holds a bible as well as an IKEA catalogue. The lobby is decorated with comfortable lounge chairs from the latest collection and the restaurant serves IKEA’s famous Swedish meatballs. The hotel concept follows the furniture maker’s main philosophy: functional design at affordable prices. The IKEA Hotel, on IKEA Street in IKEA village Älmhult, is located near the very first IKEA store, which was transformed into the IKEA Museum in 2016.

The first IKEA store in Älmhult now houses the IKEA Museum
The first IKEA store in Älmhult now houses the IKEA Museum

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From match seller to multi-billionaire

Ingvar Kamprad was born with an entrepreneurial streak; at the age of five he earned his pocket money by selling matches. And at the age of 17 he opened his first shop. He named it IKEA, an acronym of his own initials and those of the Elmtaryd farm and the village of Agunnaryd where he grew up. Business was booming for Kamprad; the furniture in particular sold quickly, all of which he personally delivered to customers using the local dairy farmer’s cart. In 1958 he inaugurated the first self-service home furniture store. It was too big for such a small town, but droves of customers soon flocked there from all over Scandinavia.
Sixty years later, IKEA Älmhult has grown into 15 companies with 5,000 employees in 50 countries. In addition to the head office, the town of Älmhult houses the design studio and test lab, the PR department where all 61 editions of the catalogue are shot, a distribution centre, the IKEA Bank, and an activity centre with the IKEA Bar and IKEA Spa. And of course there is an IKEA store, not quite the largest in the world, but the only one to offer the entire collection.

“Ingvar Kamprad did quick business selling furniture, which he personally delivered”

Ingvar Kamprad’s office in the IKEA Museum

Take a stroll down IKEA memory lane

At first glance it may look like every other IKEA store, but nothing is for sale. The IKEA empire in Älmhult is mostly only accessible to employees, but visitors still have plenty to see and enjoy. The IKEA Museum displays furniture that has been sold throughout the last 6 decades, such as a rounded bar from the 1960s, psychedelic wall paper from the 1970s, a black-and-white dining room from the 1980s and a round bed from the 1990s. The company sure has also created some real design classics. Feel like shopping? Visit IKEA Fynd, the world’s biggest bargain corner, selling prototypes and furniture from the test lab.
An IKEA living room from the 1960s in the IKEA Museum