IKEA 1970 Catalog
The cover of a 1970 IKEA catalog.
Ikea

Seventy-five years ago this week, a Swedish teenager named Ingvar Kamprad founded his first company by selling replicas of his uncle’s kitchen table and smaller items, like pencils and pipes. He decided to call the company IKEA : an acronym that incorporated the first letters of his own name and the name of where he grew up (his family farm, Elmtaryd, near the village of Agunnaryd).

Since then, IKEA has become a household name in interior design across the world, known for its minimalist, affordable furniture.

To catalog and celebrate this history, IKEA debuted a museum in 2016 in Älmhult, Sweden. It features 20,000 items from the company’s history, the museum’s creative director, Cia Eriksson, told Business Insider. What IKEA couldn’t find from its own collection, it bought from flea markets and online auctions.

Let’s take a look at IKEA’s evolution.

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When 17-year-old Ingvar Kamprad founded IKEA in 1943, Sweden was in the middle of an economic downturn, Eriksson said.

When 17-year-old Ingvar Kamprad founded IKEA in 1943, Sweden was in the middle of an economic downturn, Eriksson said.
IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad in 1963.
Ikea

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Kamprad grew up poor on a farm near the village of Agunnaryd, so he “needed to make use of everything he had.”

Kamprad grew up poor on a farm near the village of Agunnaryd, so he
Ingvar Kamprad (left) with his sister in Sweden, circa 1930s.
IKEA

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This thrifty mindset informed the vision for IKEA: to sell sold low-priced, simple products for the masses.

This thrifty mindset informed the vision for IKEA: to sell sold low-priced, simple products for the masses. Ikea
IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad in 1961. Ikea

Kamprad died in January 2018.

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In the beginning, IKEA didn’t just make furniture. It also sold small items like pencils, pipes, and postcards through mail-order catalogs.

In the beginning, IKEA didn't just make furniture. It also sold small items like pencils, pipes, and postcards through mail-order catalogs. Ikea

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In the 1950s, IKEA’s female employees wore the wool ensemble pictured below.

In the 1950s, IKEA's female employees wore the wool ensemble pictured below. Ikea

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Traveling door-to-door, they carried binders to take down customer orders.

Traveling door-to-door, they carried binders to take down customer orders.
A 1959 IKEA catalog.
HomeDesigning

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Kamprad published IKEA’s first home catalog and started designing furniture in 1951.

Kamprad published IKEA's first home catalog and started designing furniture in 1951.
A 1951 IKEA catalog.
HomeDesigning

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Flat packaging and customer-assembly existed from the beginning, which has kept shipping costs down for Ikea.

Flat packaging and customer-assembly existed from the beginning, which has kept shipping costs down for Ikea. Ikea

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The new museum is located in Älmhult, Sweden, inside the same warehouse where Kamprad launched IKEA’s first physical retail store in 1958.

The new museum is located in Älmhult, Sweden, inside the same warehouse where Kamprad launched IKEA's first physical retail store in 1958.
Filming for one of Ikea’s first TV ads, circa early 1960s.
Ikea

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In the 1960s, IKEA discovered that it could make tables more affordable by producing them from particle board, a material made from wood chips.

In the 1960s, IKEA discovered that it could make tables more affordable by producing them from particle board, a material made from wood chips.
A 1966 IKEA catalog.
IKEA

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Starting in the early ’60s, IKEA created items that were painted light, neutral colors with a few pops of color.

Starting in the early '60s, IKEA created...