BILLYthe worlds most versatile bookcase
BILLY JDER bookcase 39 W80D28, H202cm. Black/patterned 301.667.30
BILLY Limited edition
When it all began in 1979, no one in their wildest dreams could have imagined what a success it would
be. Since then, the worlds most versatile bookcase has moved into the homes of millions of people all
over the world. Happy birthday, BILLY!
The worlds most versatile bookcase
Gillis Lundgren, the designer How to create a success
41,000,000 and counting
Gyllensvaans furniture factory
BILLY limited editions
30 years of BILLY history
BILLY turns 30!
3The worlds most versatile bookcaseWe thought BILLY was just a book-
case. Our customers proved us
It was designed for books. But in
real life, BILLY has plenty of space
for other things. There is no right or
wrong. BILLY is a bookcase for every
passion!I know my sketchbook is here somewhere.
Its like a window to my outdoor life
No, I dont actually wear them. I just love looking at them.
Music for my ears, candy for my eyes!
Sure, Im a bookworm and proud of it!
The best thing about travelling is coming home again.
I call it my cookcase. Can you keep a secret?
You probably recognise the BILLY
bookcases in the picture. But
what about the handsome fellow
Well, that young man is actually
the BILLYs father. Gillis Lundgren
designed BILLY in 1979. And ever
since that day, his masterpiece has
grown bigger and better every year.
This year, BILLY turns 30, and were
happy to salute both him and Gillis!
Name: Gillis Lundgren, born in Lund,
Sweden in 1929.
Studies: Studied at the Malm
Institute of Technology before starting
out as draughtsman.
IKEA career: Gillis joined IKEA as
the fourth employee in 1953. Initially
hired to manage the IKEA Catalogue,
he moved on to design some of IKEAs
most loved products and become the
first IKEA design manager. He held a
series of senior management positions
within design, product development
and marketing, including 14 years in
Switzerland where he started a Design
Gillis Lundgren, the designer
and Development department within
the Inter-IKEA Group. Gillis Lundgren
is still active and has a keen interest
in IKEA design.
Famous IKEA products: BILLY
bookcase, TORE drawer unit, GLA
chair (assembly version), INGO dining
table, LUNNA swivelchair and many,
Most proud of: TORE drawer unit
Design philosophy: At the end of
the day, I design for the many people.
I want to make solutions for everyday
life, based on peoples needs. All my
products are simple, practical and
timeless. They should be useful, no
matter how old you are, or what your
life situation is.
Gillis Lundgren together with BILLY.
Gillis Lundgren got the idea for
TORE during a visit to a kitchen
supplier, seeing their simple
and practical kitchen drawers.
He was employee number four at IKEA,
which now has more than 128,000
employees in all. He is the man who
came up with the idea of the flat pack,
one of the key factors behind why IKEA
is what it is today.
But above all, hes the father of BILLY.
Gillis Lundgren is a living piece of design
history, he remembers how BILLY first saw
the light of day. I drew the first sketches
on a napkin. That was often the way we
worked. Ideas are perishable and you
have to capture the moment as soon as it
arrives, he says.
Now everyone can have their own
For many years Gillis Lundgren
was one of the closest colleagues
of Ingvar Kamprad, the founder
of IKEA. Today he is 80 and still
works as a consultant for IKEA.
When he looks back on his life
as a furniture designer, he does
so with a certain contentment.
Ingvar talked and I drew, and
all kinds of good things came
out of it. Like BILLY, says
Im particularly happy that BILLY has made
it possible for so many people to build their
own little library. In the old days books
were quite uncommon in most homes.
These days everyone has books, which is as
it should be.
Function is most important
When IKEA develops a new product, the
focus is on good design and function at a
low price, so that everyone can afford to
Obviously this was also our point of
departure when developing BILLY, says
Gillis Lundgren. But when youre designing
a piece of storage furniture, which is what
a bookcase essentially is, theres one thing
thats more important than anything else:
After all, a bookcase is primarily for storing
books. Its no more complicated than that.
This means that it had to be constructed so
it can store as much as possible, while also
being able to hold a heavy weight, without
the shelves buckling after a while.
The next task was to create a system that
How to create a success
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Im particularly happy that BILLY has made it possible for so many people to build their own little library.
Not everyone lives in the same type of
home. Some have very little space, some
have more. But BILLY fits in everywhere
with its different heights and widths, wood
types and colours. You might say theres
always a place for BILLY, whether its the
living room or an unassuming little corner in
the hall, or wherever theres a free space.
Design that never goes out of style
Appearances do matter too of course a
lot. When we were developing BILLY, we
wanted to make a bookcase that would be,
how should I put it, discreet in its form,
while also being attractive and timeless. A
bookcase is the typical kind of furniture that
you want to add to later, when you have
more books. So you want to know its still
available to buy. Thats why a bookcase
can never go out of style! I think thats also
one of the biggest reasons why BILLY has
so many friends all over the world, Gillis
Lundgren explains. Someone told me that
more than 41 million BILLY bookcases have
been sold since 1980, when BILLY first
appeared in our catalogue.
I think thats a world record thatll be hard
Price not unimportant
Nice-looking furniture products are often
made for a few people that can afford to buy
them. But at IKEA, the look of the price tag
is as important as the look of the product.
Anyone can come up with an expensive
solution, as Gillis Lundgren puts it. Its
harder to make something more reasonably
priced that most people can afford. Thats
why the designers and product developers
who work at IKEA are in direct contact with
the suppliers, to ensure the low price can
start from the factory floor. They consider
which raw materials are most suitable.
How the machines used in production can
be utilised optimally. How waste can be
kept to an absolute minimum. And they
always consider flat packs and products that
customers can put together themselves.
Quite simply, they strive to find smart
solutions that benefit customers in the
shape of a low price. Apart from being
the father of BILLY, Gillis Lundgren also
developed the idea of the flat pack. The
brainwave came one day when he and
Ingvar Kamprad were packing up after a
photo shoot for some advertising. He simply
unscrewed the legs from LVET, a table
made in the mid-1950s, and laid them under
the table-top. Ingvar Kamprad thought
that was a great idea, and ever since then
the flat-pack furniture that customers put
together themselves has been part of the
Thats really all there is to it!
Gillis Lundgren concludes.
41 million BILLY bookcases have been made since 1979. If
you laid them all out in a line, the line would be over 70,000
kilometres long. Thats a distance equivalent to almost twice
around the world at the equator.
Smart solutions, lower price
Since BILLY was first launched 30 years ago, continuous
product development combined with more efficient production
methods as well as increasing volumes has allowed us to
make BILLY even more affordable. Since the start, weve
reduced the price by more than 30% in todays monetary
41,000,000 and counting
Flatpack is one of the reasons why BILLY is so affordable.PE244816
We want to buy furniture.
So begins the letter,
postmarked lmhult, Sweden,
3 May 1952 and signed not by