Ingvar Kamprad, the IKEA founder who became one of the world’s richest men by turning a small-scale mail order business into a global furniture empire, has died at 91, the company said Sunday.
The company said in a statement that he was “one of the greatest entrepreneurs of the 20th century.”
Ingvar Kamprad was born in 1926 in Småland in southern Sweden. At the early age of 17 he founded IKEA – the business that became his lifelong commitment. He used some money his father had given him as a gift for performing well at school despite his dyslexia.
In a statement on Sunday, Ikea said that Mr Kamprad had “peacefully passed away at his home”.
“He worked until the very end of his life, staying true to his own motto that most things remain to be done,” it added. Mr Kamprad eventually stepped down from the company’s board in 2013, at the age of 87.
Furniture designer Jeff Banks said that Mr Kamprad’s creations radically changed how people made and designed products for the home.
“People have tried to reproduce and copy that, but unsuccessfully,” he said.
Mr Kamprad is reported to have come up with the idea of flat-pack furniture after watching an employee remove the legs from a table in order to fit it into a customer’s car.
Banks went on to cal Kamprad “head and shoulders above the rest”.
In an interview in the 1980s, Mr Kamprad said that his vision for Ikea was that it would be a company that would make life easier for its customers.
In more recent years, Mr Kamprad faced scrutiny over links to Nazi groups.
The billionaire revealed some parts of his past in a book in 1988, admitting that he was a close friend of the Swedish fascist activist Per Engdahl, and a member of his New Swedish Movement between 1942 and 1945.
He said that his involvement was youthful “stupidity” and the “greatest mistake” of his life.