IKEA was founded in Sweden in 1943. In 2008 it became the world’s largest furniture retailer and has held that title ever since. There are 403 IKEA stores spread across 49 countries and it keeps 95 percent of its product range standard, which means that you can buy the exact same BILLY bookcase in Ekaterinburg, Russia as you can in Johor Bahru, Malaysia and Frisco, Texas. It’s joked that one in ten Europeans was conceived in an IKEA bed.
This ubiquity of Scandinavian design has spawned a global cult of minimalism and all things Nordic, making Scandinavian aesthetics one of the few unchanging factors in an increasingly turbulent world. Amid this fever for all things clean and functional, the Norway-based architecture office Snøhetta has quietly been winning some of the most prestigious contracts in the the world.