When I mention the word Sweden, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Is it boats filled with fierce Vikings heading out to raid foreign shores? Is it delicious meatballs served with berry sauce? Most likely, it’s IKEA. The iconic furniture brand personifies Scandinavian design and innovation across the world.


Here in New Zealand, we know and love the IKEA brand. That’s why the AKIA team specialise in bringing you the best of IKEA’s range at an affordable price. Today, we want to introduce you to why IKEA is so much more than just furniture, the history of the company, and how you can get your hands on IKEA furniture and accessories right here in New Zealand


The history of Ikea furniture

IKEA’s creator Ingvar Kamprad grew up on a farm called 'Elmtaryd', near the small village of Agunnaryd southern Sweden. Ingvar always had an entrepreneurial streak – when he was five years old he sold matches to his neighbours. After he was given a bicycle at age seven he took his business all over the village.


He started buying matchbooks in bulk to improve his profit margins, then expanded his business to include flower seeds, Christmas ornaments, greeting cards, pencils, and ball-point pens. When he turned 17, Ingvar’s father gives him some money as a reward to excelling at school, and Ingvar used the money to launch the company IKEA – named for a combination of his own initials (I. K.) and the initials of his farm and village (E. A.)


Originally, IKEA sold products like picture frames, stationery, jewellery, and nylon stockings. As Ingvar’s business grew, he started to place advertisements in local newspapers and created the ability to order via mail. The local milk van helped him deliver his products to the train station. In 1948, Ingvar added locally-made furniture to his inventory, and it flies off the shelves.


In 1951, Ingvar hit on the idea to expand his business further afield by producing a furniture catalogue. By 1953, he opened his first showroom in Älmhult, Sweden, giving people to opportunity to see and touch the furniture before they purchase. The store allowed Ingvar to win a price war between his main competitor and resulted in his competitors pressuring suppliers to boycott the store.


But where others might’ve seen a problem, Ingvar saw only opportunity. The solution was to design their own furniture, using their unique ethos. In 1956, IKEA introduced the first line of flat-pack, self-assembly furniture. The concept was to create functional and beautiful home furnishings that could be sold at a low enough price that as many people as possible could afford. The furniture would coordinate perfectly so buyers didn’t have to worry about matching new pieces to their current decor.


The IKEA concept was born.



IKEA Kungens Kurva 1965 

Over the next forty years, over 200 IKEA stores have opened around the world. New ranges and initiatives have been brought to life, including the children’s IKEA range and the IKEA Group, which works on social and environmental projects.


Everything IKEA does as a company is built around their corporate values – called the IKEA Concept. This states that IKEA should provide a range of home furnishing products that are:


  • Affordable for many people.

  • A combination of function, quality, design, and value.

  • Designed, built, and sold with sustainability in mind.

  • Enabling more people to live a better life at home.


For more about the fascinating history of IKEA and founder Ingvar Kamprad, see the IKEA website.


Style, form, and function of IKEA furniture

IKEA furniture takes inspiration from the Scandinavian design ethos. As this design style has grown in popularity around the world, so has the IKEA brand. Scandinavian designs is characterised by these common style elements:


  • Simple, clean lines. Scandinavian (Scandi) design prioritized function. But that doesn’t mean the pieces are boxy and ugly. Instead, clean lines, graceful curves, and attention to detail create an elegant, simple look. The Arne Jacobsen 7 chair is the classic piece of furniture that exemplifies Scandinavian design.
  • Neutrals and colour-pops. White and other neutral colours dominate Scandi design. These bring in more natural light and make the rooms seem larger. This white is softened and balanced with colourful rugs, soft furnishings, statement chairs, and wall art.
  • Lighting. Winters in Sweden are long and dark, so lighting is important in Scandi design. While natural lighting takes centre-stage, many homes use different layers of light including lamps, pendants, and even candles to create a warm, cosy, and inviting atmosphere without feeling gloomy.
  • Natural materials. Scandi design likes to relate back to the wild landscape with visible wood grains and textures, metal, and natural fabrics like linen. Wood in particular features prominently, with white pine, beech, and ash used for floorings, furniture, and accessories.


For more information about Scandi design, see this article on Life in Norway.


IKEA takes all these elements of Scandi design and weaves them into every piece. As well as that, the IKEA Concept requires their range to be built sustainably, so they often use recycled material and sustainable sources. By 2020, all wood used in IKEA products will be certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council (they’ve already reached 80%), and cotton has been sourced from sustainable sources since 2015. IKEA are also exploring additional options around recycling, using new and composite products, and reducing the use of non-recycled plastic.


According to an Inc article about the brand, IKEA’s furniture is also revolutionary because of it’s flat pack nature. One day, a product designer was struggling to fit a table into his car, so he screwed the legs off to get it to fit. It occurred to him this would be a common problem many customers faced. By creating furniture that requires assembly, IKEA solved a key customer issue.


What makes IKEA furniture so popular?

Why has IKEA become so popular all over the world?


The answer lies in IKEA’s unique design ethos. Before IKEA, most people viewed furniture as an investment for the next 20-30 years of their life. For this reason, they stressed about their decisions as many as they would about any other investment – buying a house or playing the stock market. But IKEA designs are made to be affordable now, and they can be altered or expanded or replaced as your needs change.


IKEA takes inspiration from the modern Scandinavian style – simple and clean, with a few bold colours (blue, yellow, orange) and light natural tones. This style can be easily adapted for different types of homes and spaces, and it’s functional and simple for modern living. Many of IKEA’s pieces are classic examples of Scandi design. When you look at a piece of IKEA furniture, it’s instantly recognisable as the IKEA brand. Because all the furniture co-ordinates, you can furnish an entire home from IKEA and know it will be stylish. It takes the stress out of the whole process.


IKEA Couch Draw and Lamp


According to Marcus Engman, IKEA’s previous head of design, the design process begins and ends with the customer. Designers live with customers to assess their design needs. Nearly all of the company’s 200,000 employees across the world have conducted home visits. Many IKEA pieces include hidden or stylish storage options and clever space-saving ideas. The company believes that furniture is more than just stuff you have in your home – it can actually make your life better.


When you visit an IKEA store, it’s not just a place where you buy things – it’s an entire experience. The larger stores include galleries of rooms set up with IKEA furniture. You can wander through the showroom, see the pieces in a realistic setting, sit on the chairs, look through the kitchen cupboards, and gather ideas for home and interior design. Many stores also include cafes and Swedish meatball stations, as well as entertainment for children.


IKEA is particularly popular with millennials and younger people. It’s affordable while still being high-quality, employs modern design with practical elements and whimsical names, and the company has a huge focus on ethical practices (such as paying employees a living wage).


Ikea furniture in New Zealand

IKEA furniture is the perfect solution for design-conscious Kiwis. We’re attracted to the modern, elegant style with its practical features and whimsical elements. Because the furniture is sturdy and low-maintenance, it’s great for our active lifestyles, busy families, and holiday baches.


When defining New Zealand design, Astrid Andersen noted, “We have this ability to weave in the surrounding environment and to create spaces that fit perfectly within their landscape.” New Zealand designers use modern European elements and natural materials to bring the outside in and create flowing spaces that are perfect for entertaining. In many ways, our lifestyles are similar to our Scandinavian friends, which is why IKEA furniture works for us.


Alas, New Zealand has always lacked a local affordable (but not cheap) source for modern furniture. Currently, there is no IKEA furniture store in New Zealand. For years, this has meant Kiwis who wanted IKEA items had to import their own furniture at great expense.


Six years ago, AKIA opened its doors, and now AKIA is one of the biggest IKEA importers in the country. We stock a wide range of IKEA furniture and products, from large items like complete kitchens, lounge suites, and walk-in wardrobes, through to pendant lamps, picture frames, and vases, and with new stock arriving every 3 weeks you’ll be sure to find something to suit your space.


Bedroom Styled with IKEA Furniture


What does AKIA do?

AKIA has opened up IKEA furniture to the New Zealand market. Now you’re able to outfit your home, apartment, bach, or office with stylish IKEA furniture. Choose from our range of in-stock items, or create a customised order from any of IKEA’s ranges.


Although AKIA is not affiliated with INTER IKEA SYSTEMS B. V. in any way, all our products are genuine IKEA – the real deal, not knock-offs or look-alikes.


If you think you want to buy a lot of IKEA furniture in order to outfit a renovation, remodel, or new home or business, then check out our AKIA Points system. You recieve 1 point for each $1 you spend, as well as additional points for leaving a review or signing up to our mailing list. You can use these points to go toward a future purchase, as well as get notified of specials and new products.


You can view items on our website, and you can either pick up (by appointment only) or we deliver around the country.


IKEA is more than just a furniture brand – it’s a way to make your life better. IKEA furniture gives you the flexibility, convenience, affordability, organisation, and beauty you need to live your best life. What are you waiting for? Try AKIA today.