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Affordable Furniture For Your Five-Dimensional Home
October 9, 2011 5:09 PM   Subscribe

M.C. Escher Meets IKEA for some impossible items you WISH you could buy. Of course, this isn't a totally new idea, in fact, even an IKEA fansite has played with the concept. (Dedicated to anyone who ever suspected the assembly instructions were written in an alternate reality) But sometimes, even without intending, a do-it-yourselfer can achieve something pretty close. And now, IKEA itself has embraced the Escher influence in one ad.

IDEA by Escher is a stylistic departure, but a good example of the humor of the usually-single-panel "Rock Paper Cynic" webcomic. Here are a few other recent examples. YES!
posted by oneswellfoop (28 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
There is always at least one step in any set of IKEA instructions which violates at least one law of physics.
posted by empath at 5:30 PM on October 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


I've never got the joke "Ikea shit is hard to assemble and their instructions are impossible to understand". I think it's one of those things people say because it's supposed to be funny by default, like saying Mondays suck or that airplane food is bad. I bought loads of IKEA shit and assembled together with my wife. It's annoying, but it's not hard. And I am far from being a prodigy with my hands (you can ask my wife - Hey-o!)
posted by falameufilho at 5:35 PM on October 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


It's probably a stand-up comedy cliche that started because comics saw "Furniture I have to ASSEMBLE? PANIC! Then make a joke about it!" Because stand-up comedy skills and the ability to assemble things are mutually exclusive, right?
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:46 PM on October 9, 2011


isn't ikea stuff kind of non-durable

easily stripped screw threads, no water resistance, etc.?
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 6:00 PM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ikea is only hard to assemble when you're piss drunk on Jameson and have to get a room together in time for your kids' weekend visitation.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 6:00 PM on October 9, 2011 [13 favorites]


Yeah so every other weekend. That's often.
posted by TheRedArmy at 6:05 PM on October 9, 2011


Ikea is only hard to assemble when you're piss drunk on Jameson and have to get a room together in time for your kids' weekend visitation.

That's oddly specific. That would be like me saying "Moving your best friends stuff from Michigan to Illinois isn't hard as long as you don't get drunk and stay up till 4am when you have to be awake four hours later to pick up the rental truck."
posted by d1rge at 6:13 PM on October 9, 2011


easily stripped screw threads, no water resistance, etc.?

And a pain in the ass to move. I just left my furniture at my last apartment, because i didn't want to deal with disassembling it.

posted by empath at 6:15 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's oddly specific.

Not if you've seen The Wire.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:17 PM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


(Let's play spot the reference.)
posted by Horselover Phattie at 6:17 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I win.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:18 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


And a pain in the ass to move. I just left my furniture at my last apartment, because i didn't want to deal with disassembling it.

Borrowing the time-as-money concept from here, not only does it probably make sense to just replace the stuff any time you might have to disassemble it, it doesn't actually make sense to buy the shit at all.

Really, it's not actually all that cheap, and when you consider that you're going to spend who knows the f*ck how long putting it together, one is tempted to just buy real furniture.
posted by valkyryn at 6:36 PM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Not all of Ikea's offerings is fragile and flimsy. Some is crap and some is quite durable. Can we talk about something more interesting?
posted by Horselover Phattie at 6:39 PM on October 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


no
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 6:40 PM on October 9, 2011


Don't make me go all Coulton on you...
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:52 PM on October 9, 2011


valkyryn Really, it's not actually all that cheap, and when you consider that you're going to spend who knows the f*ck how long putting it together, one is tempted to just buy real furniture.

You're completely correct.

However for some of us, and I do count myself among these, IKEA stuff is not so much furniture that you have to assemble, as furniture that you get to assemble. It's a 3D puzzle!

I wouldn't buy it myself though; no matter how much fun it may be to put together, it's still flimsy, weak, and usually ugly. But I'm willing to help friends do it, if I'm not busy.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 6:54 PM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


IKEA itself has embraced the Escher influence in one ad

IKEA have said that or pundits are saying that? Which drawing? Apart from gravity acting strangely [which could be a hat tip to a million things] I reckon Cliffhanger starring Sylvester Stallone would be a bigger influence.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 7:17 PM on October 9, 2011


Really, it's not actually all that cheap, and when you consider that you're going to spend who knows the f*ck how long putting it together, one is tempted to just buy real furniture.

Hiring Ikea's recommend assembly partners is really cheap (something like $10 to $20 per item—much cheaper than getting the furniture somewhere else) and they do a much better job than I ever did.
posted by grouse at 7:36 PM on October 9, 2011


Which drawing?

With the gravity acting strange, it brought this to my mind more than any other million things, and the whole process of climbing up umpteen feet to end at the same level you started is a lot like this. It certainly could have been more obviously Escher-y, but that's why I called it "influenced".
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:06 PM on October 9, 2011


I think that making your kids do chores and help sous chef for you is a good thing, like making them help you assemble IKEA furniture. Do you want your kids to grow up to be stand-up comedian/comedienes who can neither clean, cook, nor assemble IKEA furniture?

From my experience, there's

1) cheap IKEA stuff that'll fall apart the 3rd time you look at it wrong (or the second time that you move residences),

2) the middle-of-the-road reasonably durable/attractive stuff at a slightly higher price point - at least until you get a real job (and then it goes into the rec/mud/kids rooms, and then there's

3) the overpriced expensive you-paid-too-much-for-it IKEA garbage.

My parents were working poor immigrants and bought good value IKEA stuff; assembling furniture with my dad when I was a little whippersnapper was a great primer for how to build stuff, which led to understanding the theory behind building stuff from scratch with my dad when he built up a constellation of wood/metal-working tools/equipment. Saved me a bunch of money when I was a cash poor time rich college student, saved me a bunch of time and money when I was a time and cash poor grad student.
posted by porpoise at 8:23 PM on October 9, 2011


With IKEA, price != solidity. The Billy bookcases, for instance, are one of their cheapest items (certainly by weight), and yet virtually bombproof. Other offerings...perhaps less so (I once bought a sub-Billy bookcase which self-disassembled within a couple of months).
posted by Skeptic at 1:25 AM on October 10, 2011


virtually bombproof

But not actually bookproof. After my Billy bookcase disintegrated for the second time (buckling sides, back and shelves, I guess I shouldn't have put so many books in it) I had to use quite a lot of hardware and inventing to stiffen it up. I also moved the heaviest albums to the bottom shelf and it seems to work for now. But there's just so much structural integrity you can achieve when working with cat shit, as my brother affectionately calls the particle board.
posted by hat_eater at 2:46 AM on October 10, 2011


However for some of us, and I do count myself among these, IKEA stuff is not so much furniture that you have to assemble, as furniture that you get to assemble.

Word. One time I bought a desk, brought it home, and started to assemble, but didn't have time to finish before going to work. My roommate, feeling both helpful and bored, finished it while I was at work.

I was angry with him for days.
posted by solotoro at 2:46 AM on October 10, 2011


After my Billy bookcase disintegrated for the second time (buckling sides, back and shelves, I guess I shouldn't have put so many books in it) I had to use quite a lot of hardware and inventing to stiffen it up.

How many books did you put in your bookcase?! It may be particle board, but they certainly don't stint with the material (as the weight of the damn thing tends to prove)...
posted by Skeptic at 2:54 AM on October 10, 2011


I didn't put more that would fit without using force :) and I didn't stack them - just orderly rows. The albums went initially onto the middle shelf (the structural one) and that was I suppose a mistake. Also, this is the biggest variant (80 by 200 cm or about 32 by 80 inches) and while the forces are stronger the design remains unchanged when compared to smaller versions.
The way the back was fixed (just by nails) contributed - it was responsible for most of transverse stiffness and couldn't bear so much force. After I replaced the nails with screws it was better, but after some time the mdf board the back is made of started to fray and I had to fit three steel cross braces to the back to get the stress off it. And since the bottom shelf ripped out the mountings from the board I had to screw six Confirmat screws into it. And for good measure, I also tightened the sides with two 4 mm threaded rods running across the whole thing.
I don't accuse them of stinting with material, it's just that the particle board has so poor mechanical properties that the whole design has to be very carefully engineered, otherwise sooner or later something fails and then a cascade failure is rather inevitable.
posted by hat_eater at 3:30 AM on October 10, 2011


It's better than the H.R. Giger Meets IKEA furniture. I wound up spread eagle locked into the goggle fetus flesh machine couch while it simultaneously consumed the dog and raped the television.

The dinette set is nice though.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:32 AM on October 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have 15 year old IKEA furniture that has survived 5 moves (mostly bookcases, as mentioned above, that get heavy use). Yeah, I have to assemble/disassemble it each time I move, but its not hard or anything, and its not like I'm going to go pick up an extra job in the hour or two it takes me to assemble/disassemble 6 bookcases. Furniture is pretty low on my spending-money priority.

Plus until I buy a house or something I don't want to spend a lot of money on furniture that may not work there, so I'd really rather get cheap stuff that I can get rid of without feeling bad.
posted by wildcrdj at 11:27 AM on October 10, 2011


isn't ikea stuff kind of non-durable

easily stripped screw threads, no water resistance, etc.?


It comes down to what you buy and where you install it. I have Besta cabinets and Malm beds that seem like they'll last forever (or seemed like they would before I disassembled and sold them), but I also had a sink cabinet that was utterly destroyed by a minor water leak. So YMMV.
posted by davejay at 2:48 PM on October 10, 2011


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