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On Jan. 27, Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of multi-billion-dollar Swedish furniture company IKEA, died at the age of 91. Known for his frugal lifestyle, Kamprand was once ranked as the fourth richest person in the world. A controversial figure in his native country, the business magnate drew widespread criticism in the 1990s, when it was revealed that he was a Nazi-sympathizer in his youth. In a statement posted on IKEA's official Instagram page, the company describes Kamprand as "one of the greatest entrepreneurs of the 20th century."

Kamprad was born and raised on a farm in Småland, Sweden, in 1926. At just five years old, he displayed the first signs of an entrepreneurial spirit when he started selling matches to his neighbors, according to IKEA's website. As he grew older, Kamprad’s offerings expanded to larger items such as Christmas decorations and pencils, and eventually, in 1943, he established IKEA as a mail-order business, at the age of 17. What began as a convenience store that sold practical products at reduced prices, evolved into a full-fledged furniture company in 1948 after Kamprad began sourcing pieces produced by local manufacturers in Älmhult, Sweden. In 1956, the 27-year-old commissioned the company's first flat-pack furniture piece: the Lövet table (recently relaunched as the Lövbacken table) by Swedish designer, Gillis Lundgren. IKEA opened its first retail store in 1958 in Älmhult. The brand as we know it today took shape during the 1960s and '70s, and in the ensuing decades, turned into an internationally successful furniture giant, now boasting 355 stores across 29 countries, and counting.

In recent years, the company has elevated their shopping experience through launching an augmented reality smartphone application called IKEA Place, which allows users to test IKEA's products in real time. The manufacturer has also further expanded its horizons by investing in eco-conscious ventures such as vertical farming, and partnering with solar panel manufacturer Solarcentury in order to provide its customers with solar panels and home battery storage (currently only available in stores across the U.K.) In response to the increased demand for connected homes, IKEA also recently updated its Tradfri smart bulb range to connect the fixtures to Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, and Google Home. Additionally, the company has an experimental, external future-living lab called Space10, which aims to develop and design new, sustainable ways of living.

IKEA thrived under the leadership of Kamprad, who proved to be a savvy businessman, adding touches like restaurants and food aisles to his stores in an effort to keep customers shopping for longer. But, in the 1990s, Swedish newspaper Expressen published an exposé on Kamprad's past involvement with the Swedish fascist movement in his 20s, as well as his attendance at multiple pro-Nazi extremist group meetings. He eventually cut ties with these political groups to focus on his growing business. The revelation caused many to boycott the company and in 1994, according to an article published in the Los Angeles Times, Kamprand penned a formal apology to his employees saying that "he severed his Nazi contacts in the 1950s and that the period was 'a part of my life which I bitterly regret.'"

Though Kamprad formally stepped down from the board of IKEA Group in 2013, he remained an important adviser until his death. He is survived by his adopted daughter, Annika Kihlbom, from his first marriage to Kerstin Wadling; and three sons, Peter, Jonas, and Mathias Kamprad, from his second marriage to Margaretha Stennert, which lasted from 1963 until her death in 2011. His sons each hold top positions at IKEA.

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