Ready-to-assemble furniture

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A completed Ikea flat pack bookshelf (with spare shelf leaning on right)

Ready-to-assemble furniture (RTA), also known as knock-down furniture (KD),flat pack furniture or kit furniture,is a form of furniture that requires customer assembly. Several to many furniture components are packaged in a carton which also contains assembly instructions and necessary hardware needed for the buyer to follow in order to build the furniture item correctly.

Ready-to-assemble furniture is popular among consumers who wish to save money on their furniture purchases by assembling the product on their own[1] and no need for delivery cost. In addition to saving the consumer money, flat pack furniture is generally simple to assemble and requires only the use of simple tools.

Merchants benefit from selling ready-to-assemble furniture because furniture that is already assembled tends to be bulky and more expensive to store and to deliver. Since the furniture does not need to be assembled in the factory, ready-to-assemble furniture is also less expensive for the merchant to purchase. Due to these many factors, selling flat pack furniture is a more cost-effective method of conducting business.

Ready-to-assemble furniture is typically packaged in a kit form with the pieces packaged in one or multiple boxes. The kit may contain a number of flat parts, fasteners, fixings, and other parts that are needed to assemble the furniture.

A furniture assembly industry has grown up around ready-to-assemble furniture and consumers can engage a service provider to come to their home and assemble the furniture they have purchased.


In 1949, Swedish designer Folke Ohlsson patented the first knock-down chair.[2] He later moved to the US to found his own company specializing in knock-down furniture,[3] DUX Inc.[4]

In 1951, Erie J. Sauder invented one of the first pieces of furniture that could be assembled by hand,[5] and started the Sauder Woodworking Company. Gillis Lundgren, who was a Swedish draughtsman, later developed the idea when he needed to fit a table into his car. According to reports, Lundgren unscrewed the legs off his table so he could fit it in the car and then reassembled the table at home. He then discussed the idea with his employers at IKEA, which then built its entire business around the concept, launching its first piece in 1956.[6][7][8]


Ready-to-assemble furniture can be purchased for a number of purposes:

  • Living room furniture
  • Office furniture
  • Bookcases
  • Tables
  • Beds
  • Lounge-ware
  • Outdoor furniture
  • Swingsets
  • Patio sets
  • Kitchen cabinets
  • CD/DVD storage racks
  • Wardrobes/Closets


  1. ^ "Detailed guide for any DIY Ikea assembly: DO's and DON'Ts for none professional assemblers". Flatpackmates. 
  2. ^ "Sitting furniture of the knockdown type (US patent US 2650657 A)". Sep 1, 1953. 
  3. ^ "Disadvantages of knock-down fittings". 
  4. ^ "Folke Ohlsson (Worthopedia))". 
  5. ^ "Pitfalls of Flat Pack Furniture". Flat Pack Mates. 
  6. ^ Jennings, Jason (2002). A Furniture Dealers Testament. Portfolio Books. 
  7. ^ Rothacher, Albrecht (2004). Corporate cultures and global brands. 5 Toh Tuck Link, Singapore 596224: World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd. p. 108. ISBN 981-238-856-7. Retrieved April 13, 2010. 
  8. ^ "Ikea History". 2013. Retrieved 25 March 2013.