Exercise 1

A. Watch a documentary about the history of flat-pack furniture. Choose the correct answers to 1-6.

1   The first flat-pack furniture was invented by a man from ___.

      a Sweden     b the USA     c Japan

2   He originally invented it in order to make his furniture ___.

      a quicker to make

      b cheaper to sell

      c easier to transport

3   He patented the idea in the ___.

      a 1930s     b 1950s     c 1970s

4   IKEA started selling flat-pack furniture ___ years later.

      a 5     b 10     c 15

5   Today most people have a flat-pack ___.

      a bookcase     b kitchen     c bed

6   In general, ___ people are able to assemble flat-pack furniture.

      a very few     b not many     c most

B. Watch again and answer the questions.

 What two problems does the presenter say that people talk about?

 What kind of furniture did Sauder’s company originally make?

 What did two travelling salesmen do with one of Sauder’s coffee tables?

 What was Gillis Lundgren having a problem with?

 How did he solve the problem?

 What reasons are given for the success of flat-pack furniture?

 What problems does the presenter have at the end with his bookcase?



1 b   2 3 b   4 a   5 a   6 c


1   Complicated instructions and missing parts

2   Benches and coffee tables

3   They displayed it at a furniture show in Chicago.

4   He was finding it very difficult to fit a table into his car.

5   He took the legs off, put it in the car, and put it together again at home.

6   Manufacturers are able to produce it quickly and transport it easily; it’s cheaper and more convenient; it’s generally very well designed and easy to put together.

7   There are some bits he hasn’t used.


The history of flat-pack furniture

Hi there, I’m Daniel. I’ve just bought a new bookcase. All I need to do is put it together. It shouldn’t be difficult. After all, all I need to do is follow the instructions.

OK…this might not be as easy as I thought. I don’t know why I’m surprised. People have warned me about flat-pack furniture!

Almost everybody has a story about complicated instructions and missing parts. But it’s incredibly popular, and today most people own at least one piece of flat-pack furniture. So, how has this concept come to dominate the entire furniture industry? Well, the story begins with a man called Erie J. Sauder.

Sauder owned a furniture business in Ohio in the nineteen thirties. He made benches, but with the spare wood he made small coffee tables. Because Sauder used leftover wood, the tables were cheap but high quality. In nineteen forty, two travelling salesmen noticed these tables. They really liked them. So they took one and displayed it at a furniture show in Chicago. A few days later they returned with an order for twenty-five thousand tables!

Sauder had to transport all of these new tables to Chicago, so he invented furniture that he could take apart and put into boxes. This made it easy to transport, and people could put it together at home. He patented the idea in nineteen fifty-one, and the ready-to assemble furniture industry was born.


But the idea didn’t become popular immediately. Five years later, a Swedish man named Gillis Lundgren was moving some furniture. He had never heard of ready-to-assemble furniture, and he was finding it very difficult to fit a table into his car. But then he realized that if he took the legs off, he would be able to put it in the car and put it together again at home. He discussed the idea with his employers, a small, local firm…called IKEA. They loved it and decided to focus their entire business on it.

IKEA launched their first flat-pack product in nineteen fifty-six. Today, it’s the largest furniture retailer in the world, generating sales of over twenty-seven billion euros a year. So it’s safe to say that the flat-pack concept has been a huge success.

Today almost everybody has a flat-pack wardrobe, table, or bookcase. But did you know there are entire flat-pack rooms? You can have a flat-pack bedroom, bathroom, or kitchen. You can even build an entire house out of flat-pack!

There are many reasons why this type of furniture has been successful. Manufacturers are able to produce it quickly and transport it easily, so it’s cheaper and more convenient than other furniture. And while it might look complicated at first, it is generally very well designed, so it’s very, very easy to put together. In fact, anyone can do it!

I’m nearly finished, and I’ve only been working on it for a few minutes! I haven’t used these bits, but they’re probably not important. So, what do you think?

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