(30 Dec 2016) LEAD IN:
??Forget fine arts or ancient artifacts, a museum in central Sweden is exploring the more than 70-year history of furniture retailer IKEA.??It shows how an entrepreneurial young boy and blossoming Swedish trend for interior design combined to form what's now the world's largest furniture retailer.??
??At this museum in Almhult, around 450 kms southwest of Stockholm, the sculptures are sofas and the artefacts are armchairs.
The IKEA Museum opened in June 2016. It's located in the very first IKEA store which threw open its doors in 1958.
It explores the 73-year history of the company through 3,500 square-metres of exhibition space.
And it shows how entrepreneur, Ingvar Kamprad from the country's southern Smaland province, went on to found the famous Swedish company.
"It's 70 years since it was founded, so the years have passed, and we have a quite expansive (collection) how we have developed as a company and where we our today," explains Per-Olof Svensson from the IKEA Museum's archive and collection team.
"It started with one person, and today it's a global business with over 170,000 co-workers."
The museum shows the simple, modest lives many Smaland Swedes led during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
This slowly began to change from the 1930s onwards as an emerging economy allowed Swedish families to invest more in their homes.
?"People were (putting) a little bit more money into their homes and eventually - we're not in the war, so we have a little bit of money over - and the design history of Sweden started," explains museum manager, Carina Kloek-Malmsten.
"So that led to the women starting to work and also the possibility to actually earn a little bit more extra money and to put it into design and furniture."
It was against this backdrop that IKEA founder, Ingvar Kamprad was raised.
Born in 1926, Kamprad first founded IKEA as a mail-order business in 1943 at the age of 17-years-old.
The name was taken from his initials and the names of the farm and parish in which he grew up - Elmtaryd and Agunnaryd.
"Some kids are interested from the beginning to be an entrepreneur and Ingvar was one of them," explains Kloek-Malmsten.
"And actually, when he was a little boy, he started to sell post cards to his grandmother and to the neighbours and eventually he loaned a bike and he started to fish, and he was selling the fish around."
"And the little box that you can find in our museum is one thing of his. So the little fish box was actually the first little box that he had his money in."
Furniture manufacturing was common among Smaland farmers and by 1948, furniture crept its way into Kamprad's mail-order business.
In 1953, he opened his first showroom in Almhult. IKEA began manufacturing its own furniture in 1955 and the first official store opened in 1958.
From that moment on, IKEA grew to the global business shoppers know today.
There currently 390 IKEA stores spread across 48 countries, that includes Cairo, Dubai, Bangkok and Seoul.
In 2015, IKEA posted 33.8 billion euros (approx. $36.3 billion USD) in retail sales, excluding sales tax.
?"Our habits change over time. If we go back from when IKEA started, television, it was not a big thing for people," explains Svensson.
"But after we see that yeah this is one part and one important part of the living room. And of course, we try to make things that work together with the TV."
To illustrate IKEA's global growth, 2017's catalogue is set to be printed in 32 different languages and distributed to 48 countries. Around 211,000,000 copies will be made.
That's some improvement on the first catalogue, which was printed 285,000 times and only in Swedish.
But what does IKEA's success say about people and their changing habits?
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