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    BILLYthe worlds most versatile bookcase

    turns 30!

    OCTOBER 2009


    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

    Product index

    03 04

    05 07


    09 12


    BILLY turns 30!

  • billy

    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

    with BILLY?

    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,

    many more.

    Most proud of: TORE drawer unit


    in 1958.

    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

    Gillis Lundgren.

    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

    buy it.

    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

    is flexible.

    How to create a success

    continues on next pagePE246436




    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

    to beat!

    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

    IKEA concept.

    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

    Ingvar Kamp