Cover image for Leading by design : the IKEA story
Leading by design : the IKEA story
Torekull, Bertil, 1931-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperBusiness, [1999]

Physical Description:
xi, 244 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm
General Note:
"Originally published as Historian om IKEA by Wahlström & Widstrand, 1998"--T.p. verso.
Corporate Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HD9773.S84 I48 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Based on exclusive interviews with the legendary founder of IKEA, Ingvar Kamprad, Leading by Design tells the inside story of Kamprad's humble roots and of the visionary concepts and innovative strategies that turned a small, Swedish mail-order company into a worldwide commercial giant. Book jacket.

Author Notes

Ingvar Feodor Kamprad was born in Pjatteryd, Sweden on March 30, 1926. He earned money selling matches and pencils in villages. He founded Ikea in 1943 at the age of 17, using money his father gave him for chores to register his mail-order business in household goods. Over the next seven decades, he built Ikea into the world's largest furniture retailer. He opened the first showroom in Almhult, Sweden in 1953 and it became the first Ikea store in 1958. He retired in 1986. At the time of his death, there were more than 350 stores in 29 countries around the world. His manifesto, The Testament of a Furniture Dealer, was published in 1976 and his autobiography, Leading by Design: The Ikea Story written with Bertil Torekull, was published in 1999. He died on January 27, 2018 at the age of 91.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

This biography of Scandinavian merchandising giant Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of IKEA, is based on author Torekull's extensive conversations with his subject and on various public and private documents. The text often reads like an autobiography with lengthy first-person reminiscences delivered in Kamprad's voice. Born in 1926, Kamprad was a natural trader even as a child and eventually entered the furniture business in an attempt to imitate competitors. IKEA is now valued at $6.25 million and boasts 41,000 employees in 150 stores in 30 countries. Much of the book is devoted to explication of Kamprad's nine "commandments," which are the spiritual basis of the company but read like self-help maxims ("Most Things Still Remain to be Done"). The corporate origins of this book (Torekull was hired by Kamprad to tell the entrepreneur's story) call into question its objectivity, especially in the transparent glossing over of Kamprad's early affiliation with Nazism (a hot topic in the European press). Marginally recommended to fill controversy-fueled demand. --Leon Wagner

Publisher's Weekly Review

Like IKEA's mass market-priced beds and dressers, this authorized history of the Swedish furniture company is accessible. Unfortunately, Torekull, a prominent Swedish financial journalist, is all too willing to downplay messy details as he charts the company's evolution from founder Ingvar Kamprad's first sales of cheap fountain pens in 1943 to the present-day behemoth, which boasts 150 stores in 30 countries on four continents with 41,000 employees. Emerging from the interviews with Kamprad and others is a flattering portrait of an entrepreneur with drive and vision who has been responsive to every opportunity to reduce costs. In a demonstration of quick reflexes in the face of changing market conditions, Kamprad sought out sources in Poland and other Eastern European countries as soon as local Swedish suppliers became too expensive. Over time, Kamprad's bold responses to challenges have undeniably been successful. Yet Torekull indicates that IKEA's future may not be as rosy as its past: Kamprad's sons tend to sit in silent obedience when their father is in the room, and new IKEA projects still invariably originate with Kamprad himself. The iron fist of the founder is also evident in the wall of disingenuousness that Torekull confronted in his attempts to investigate Kamprad's past associations with Hitler supporters and Swedish neo-Fascist political groups. Readers might suspect that Torekull would have relished writing an unauthorized history of IKEA. Confronted with the hagiographical excesses here, they will surely wish he had. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Torekull, an editor and founder of Dagens Industri, an economic newspaper in Sweden, provides a picturesque and insightful view of Swedish entrepreneur Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of IKEA, who was born in 1926. A descendant of merchants and traders, Kamprad started his own mail-order firm (IKEA) at 17, selling fountain pens, Christmas cards, and other sundries. Years later, he was the first to develop the idea, commercially, of selling furniture unassembled in easily transported flat boxes. Drawing on personal interviews, extensive research, and meetings with Kamprad, the author eloquently describes the company, its founder, and his business philosophy. Kamprad's reputation was tarnished when in 1994 it was discovered that from ages 16 to 25 he had contacts with a pro-Nazi activist, who was favored by his stern German grandmother and German father. Kamprad explains how he was indoctrinated and regrets this time in his life, but he asks, "When is an old man to be forgiven for the sins of his youth?" Recommended for business collections.ÄBellinda Wise, Nassau Community Coll. Lib., Garden City, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. vii
Author's Notep. xi
Prologue: In the Beginning Was the Morainep. 1
1 Roots of a Furniture Dealerp. 4
2 The Entrepreneurp. 18
3 The Troublesome Capitalistp. 43
4 Building the Empirep. 86
5 Leadership in Times of Changep. 124
6 The Great Leapp. 164
7 Reflections of a Visionaryp. 210
Appendix A Ingvar Kamprad's Concluding Words: How This Book Came Aboutp. 222
Appendix B A Furniture Dealer's Testamentp. 228
Appendix C Important Dates in the Life of Ingvar Kamprad and IKEAp. 240
Appendix D IKEA Stores Around the Worldp. 242
Acknowledgmentsp. 243