IKEA has hit the news recently with the death of its frugal founder, multi-billionaire Ingvar Kamprad. With perfect timing, a new three-part OU / BBC documentary, Flatpack Empire, begins at 9pm on BBC2 this Tuesday (6 February); airing for the following two weeks as well.
Undoubtedly one of the world’s most successful, enigmatic and recognisable global brands, IKEA enjoyed a turnover of more than £34 billion in 2016 and nearly 900 million people in 49 countries visited its stores last year. Now, for the first time in the company’s 70-year history, the famously secretive Swedish furniture retailer has opened its doors to the television cameras with exclusive access to stores, warehouses, test labs and design studios.
The daily challenges of designers, product developers, store managers and suppliers were filmed around the world, from Sweden to India to China, throughout 2017. The journey of new products, from the development headquarters in Älmhult, Sweden, is followed through prototyping, testing, manufacturing and approval.
There is an opportunity to explore how IKEA’s catalogue is created – where thousands of products are photographed in extraordinary detail in Europe’s largest photographic studio; see how new staff get to grips with a unique set of ‘culture and values’ that has guided the company for seven decades; and follow a massive global expansion programme into India, a country yet untouched by the Swedish flatpack revolution.
Dr Fiona Harris, Senior Lecturer in Management, and Julian Cooper, Associate Lecturer in Business, Creativity and Marketing, were the two academic consultants from The Open University Business School who worked on Flatpack Empire.
You can find out more about the TV series and also read articles uncovering the secrets behind flatpack, brand names and everyday design via the OpenLearn website.
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