Gillis Lundgren, who designed Ikea’s Billy bookcase and helped invent flat-pack furniture, has died at 86

RIP, Mr. Lundgren.
RIP, Mr. Lundgren.
Image: Ikea
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If you have a bookcase in your house, you very possibly have Gillis Lundgren to thank for it. The man who created Ikea’s best-selling Billy bookcase passed away on Feb. 25 at the age of 86, a company spokeswoman confirmed to Quartz.

The industrial designer started working at IKEA in 1953 and was the company’s fourth employee.

Lundgren is also one of the pioneers of the flat-pack furniture revolution. Three years into his post at IKEA, inspiration struck when he detached the legs of a table (reports differ as to whether he unscrewed them or sawed them off) to fit it into his car. Over the years, Lungren worked with Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad to perfect this game-changing way of designing and delivering affordable furniture.

“My design philosophy has always been that I design for the many people, I want to create solutions for everyday based on people’s needs,” Lundgren said when he won the Tenzing Prize in 2012. “My products are simple, practical and useful for everyone, no matter how old you are or what your life situation.”

Lundgren designed over 200 pieces of furniture for IKEA, but his most popular was the no-frills Billy bookcase. IKEA makes 15 of these bookcases a minute, and has sold more than 41 million units by Billy’s 30th anniversary in 2009.