Flatpack Empire

Confirmed for BBC Two on 6 February at 9pm to 10pm

Ep 1/3

Tuesday 6 February



IKEA is undoubtedly one of the world’s most successful, enigmatic, and recognisable global brands. Last year more than 900 million people in 49 countries visited its stores, which had a turnover of more than £34 billion.

In a major new three-part series, our cameras explore the world of IKEA, from the design studios to factories and stores, for the very first time. 

Few companies can legitimately claim to shape the way we live today. Fewer still inspire a cult-like devotion in customers and employees alike. But IKEA is not like other companies.

The famously secretive Swedish furniture retailer is guided by the principle of creating 'the better everyday life for the many people'. But what is the secret to its success? How does the machine of IKEA affect the people who work for it, and how does its ruthlessly efficient business model affect the world?

In this first episode, we see how IKEA is starting to open up its design headquarters to outside influences. Tom Dixon, the ‘enfant terrible’ of British design, has been invited to collaborate on a new bed-sofa – but with deadlines looming and the world’s furniture press watching, neither he nor IKEA fully agree what the product should be.

We follow the production of the famous catalogue, where Sara Blomquist is in charge of devising the ‘perfect’ front-cover image. Can she unite different voices in the company and create an image that will be seen by millions of people around the world?

In the UK, we see how changing consumer habits and online shopping is making IKEA think about new technology such as augmented reality. Having been with the company since the Warrington store opened 30 years ago, Paul Fishwick is trialling the new tech with customers in store.

Finally, we follow a group of new managers from Sheffield, who are making the pilgrimage to Älmhult, the small Swedish town where the company started 70 years ago, to understand for themselves the unique culture and values that sit at the heart of the organisation.