Design Within Reach?
August 26, 2009 7:36 AM   Subscribe

Beijing loves IKEA - but not for shopping. "Every weekend, thousands of looky-loos pour into the massive showroom to use the displays. Some hop into bed, slide under the covers and sneak a nap; others bring cameras and pose with the decor. Families while away the afternoon in the store for no other reason than to enjoy the air conditioning."
posted by geoff. (78 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Two IKEA related posts in 24 hours? Did IKEA die?

I've always wanted to do this.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 7:39 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


When I lived in Hong Kong, shopping centres (and the local IKEA, when it opened) were always packed at weekends, not because people were out shopping per se, but sort of window shopping. People were there to enjoy the airconditioning and because people's flats were tiny and horrible. To a certain extent, it's a cultural thing - people in urban China generally don't spend much time in their houses, and have a very different relationship to them compared to the norm in the West. Thus, places like IKEA become a natural place to spend a good bit of time, as it's a comfortable, interesting, and inexpensive place to be.
posted by Dysk at 7:43 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is kind of... sad, I suppose. How badly off does your country have to be where an IKEA is considered weekend entertainment?

I love Ikea products, but I hate the store.
posted by Mwongozi at 7:45 AM on August 26, 2009


A group of university graduates recently donned caps and gowns for photographs by the checkout aisles as if to capture the moment they matriculated to the middle class.

Heh.
posted by Benjamin Nushmutt at 7:50 AM on August 26, 2009


Ha! Reminded me of a friend of mine who was showing us these pics in 2003 of people sleeping at ikea.
posted by vacapinta at 7:53 AM on August 26, 2009


IKEA is hugely popular for somewhat the same reason in Singapore too, although most people usually end up buying one or two items. People like to visit the showrooms to get ideas for decorating their homes, and the IKEA cafeteria is always fully packed with hordes of people queuing up for Swedish meatballs. The newly opened IKEA here has a gigantic cafeteria with a three food queues and at least five cashiers.

In fact I always thought the cafeteria was very much the central focus of all IKEA stores till I visited the one in Pittsburgh while in college. The guy at the counter gave us a weird look when we went up to order food, and we were the only two people in the entire cafeteria. Then again, it was a weekday afternoon now I think about it.
posted by destrius at 7:54 AM on August 26, 2009


We used to do this at Warner-Bros. Sorry, Bugs Bunny. We killed your stores.
posted by mippy at 7:54 AM on August 26, 2009


mwongozi: This is kind of... sad, I suppose. How badly off does your country have to be where an IKEA is considered weekend entertainment?

It really doesn't work that way. I wish I could more properly explain what I tried to in my first post, but I just don't know how to...
posted by Dysk at 7:55 AM on August 26, 2009


Two IKEA related posts in 24 hours? Did IKEA die?

Two posts is a coincidence, three is a trend, four is a fad, five is...?

(Profit?)

posted by Dr-Baa at 8:00 AM on August 26, 2009


I love Ikea products, but I hate the store.

This. My brother-in-law's a firefighter. When a bunch of us went to Ikea, which was new to him, he was shocked at every turn: The place is stuffed full of flammable materials, but fire exits (let alone escape routes) are all but non-existent in that giant labyrinth.

Also, you can never find what you're looking for.

Ikea is a mail-order catalogue as far as I'm concerned.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:00 AM on August 26, 2009


There's a HUGE cutie-pie scene in the newish hit movie (500) Days of Summer which flogs the "pretend-we-live-in-Ikea" theme to death.

(The movie gave me the screaming heebie jeebies. Then again, I loathed the "delightful" Waitress -so obviously it's my problem!)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 8:02 AM on August 26, 2009


I think the Chinese will rethink Ikea once they learn of moving away from Futura in its Latin character set marcom.
posted by birdherder at 8:03 AM on August 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


I can see why Ikea would be weekend entertainment for the family. I've been to one only once and it was as frustrating to get out of as any corn maze I've ever been to.
posted by bondcliff at 8:05 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


How badly off does your country have to be where an IKEA is considered weekend entertainment?

Actually, the people-watching in the Brooklyn Ikea is kind of interesting - it's like a concentrated cross-section of Brooklyn. You've got Orthodox Jewish families from Midwood and Polish families from Greenpoint, West Indian families from Crown Heights, young couples from Williamsburg with kids named "Hunter" or "Jaden", Dominican or Mexican families from the surrounding neighborhood, Chinese families from Sunset Park -- all wandering around discussing amongst themselves the merits of different Swedish furniture.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:06 AM on August 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


I've never been in an Ikea.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:06 AM on August 26, 2009


St. Alia of the Bunnies: I've never been in an Ikea.

...and I have. Your point?
posted by Dysk at 8:10 AM on August 26, 2009 [7 favorites]


Modern Toss said it best. Admittedly, that's the only thing they ever said well
posted by dng at 8:12 AM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


Some massive proportion of couples fight upon leaving Ikea, lets make up a number just to give my point some gravity; 68%. The last communication we generally at Ikea for a good three or four hours is, "if you think I'm standing in the checkout just to buy some fucking tealights you've lost the plot my dear."

Then you choke back a dollar hot dog that tastes like defeat and rancour, and start wandering in circles looking for your car.
posted by Keith Talent at 8:15 AM on August 26, 2009 [12 favorites]


More Yi Jia fun!

Sleeping at Yi Jia has been a store staple since they first opened in 1998!
posted by Pollomacho at 8:16 AM on August 26, 2009


Double?
posted by Lush at 8:22 AM on August 26, 2009


One day in Perth it was ~112 degrees and my roomie suggested "fuck this, let's go to the movies". First and only time I've gone anywhere simply to escape to be in industrial strength airconditioning.

Bonus points: it was a man date.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 8:23 AM on August 26, 2009


It really doesn't work that way. I wish I could more properly explain what I tried to in my first post, but I just don't know how to...
Think I know just what you mean Brother Dysk, though I can't quite give a succinct definition either. Something to do with one of the big charms of Beijing I reckon, the (now fast disappearing) street life and how comfortable Beijingers are with who they are and what they're doing. Popping up the shop in your nightgown as since you live in a crowded multi-occupant courtyard why stand on appearances? Get a wrecked settee in the street, chess board and a few friends plus spectators and while away the evening. It's kind of the antithesis of what everybody decries about the self-regarding 'hipster' - no-one in their right mind would give a toss if hanging around IKEA wasn't cool or edgy, if it was physically cooler than the sauna weather outside and a chance for a bit of people-watching and window-shopping no cash spent.
posted by Abiezer at 8:24 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Jody Tresidder: The movie gave me the screaming heebie jeebies.

I can't agree more. I got free tickets to an advance screening. The screenwriter did a Q&A afterwards. I had to rush out of the theater as soon as the movie was over so that I wouldn't scream at the guy for being a misogynist dickwhiffer. I was very happy to read this pan of the film in The Stranger.
posted by Kattullus at 8:34 AM on August 26, 2009


Oh and old news but... About 10 ancient tombs dating back nearly 1,800 years have been destroyed by construction workers building an IKEA branch in Nanjing in southeastern China, a city newspaper said on Tuesday.
posted by Kattullus at 8:35 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I thought the Beijing Ikea closed. When I went to it, it was by the North leg of the fourth Ring Road, at the center of this photo. It's not there any more. Where is it?
"I never knew you could just screw a shelf onto the wall," said Fan Haiying, 29, contemplating how to store her books and photographs. "Traditional Chinese furniture always needs a cabinet door."
There's a reason for having cabinets instead of open shelves: dust - huge clouds of it, for days on end. The enclosed cabinets keep most of it off your stuff.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:38 AM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


Ha! Reminded me of a friend of mine who was showing us these pics in 2003 of people sleeping at ikea.

Jesus. How do they run a business? Reminds me of the discussion about the derros and assorted freeloaders who hang out in book stores.

I was in Target two days ago and some fuckwit was standing up, slouched face down, sleeping in a cushion display off in a corner with not much foot traffic. He looked hung over. He heard me coming and sleepily looked at me. I gave him the hairy eyeball, which is most unlike me.

Two posts is a coincidence, three is a trend, four is a fad, five is...?

Carelessness?

St. Alia of the Bunnies: I've never been in an Ikea.

...and I have. Your point?


Come come. Such negativity.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 8:41 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


IKEA has the added challenge of copycats. Brazen customers are known to come in with carpenters armed with measuring tapes to make replicas.

This made me laugh. It also fits a certain stereotype given all the piracy out of China, but it's funny on its own.

I when Ikea will really profit in China. The waiting game has to be costing them so much, and it might not be another Wal-mart story.
posted by cmgonzalez at 8:42 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


You guys can hate on Ikea all you want. I went there with a strict shopping list last weekend, found the stuff I needed quickly, and then spent the rest of the day eating meatballs and spinning around on office chairs. It was... awesome.
posted by oinopaponton at 8:43 AM on August 26, 2009 [9 favorites]


...so that I wouldn't scream at the guy for being a misogynist dickwhiffer.

That very nearly brought tears of hysterical gratitude, Kattullus.
(It's when sentimental movies bully the viewer that I grow very, very cold. Thanks for that bracing review too!)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 8:44 AM on August 26, 2009


Last time I was in New York, I spent a few really pleasant afternoons window-shopping my way around Chinatown — didn't buy anything but snack food. I'm pretty sure that means I don't get to mock this.
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:45 AM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


Weekend Ikea: crowded, miserable

Weekday Ikea: peaceful, pleasant
posted by brain_drain at 8:49 AM on August 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


I love Ikea products, but I hate the store.

I don't like either. Their products are flimsy and short-lived. I no longer have any Ikea stuff, because it's all fallen apart, and I wouldn't waste the money replacing it from there.
posted by rusty at 8:49 AM on August 26, 2009


Their products are flimsy and short-lived.

Rusty,
You are right - but "everyone" seems to know that you can still get bargains if you can - where possible - replace all the cheap tinfoil screws/nails AND repaint/revarnish simple surfaces. I'm not remotely an orange swan-type of mefite (i.e I'm not brilliantly handy at all) but Ikea stuff will last years, instead of months, that way.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 8:59 AM on August 26, 2009


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_place
The third place is a term used in the concept of community building to refer to social surroundings separate from the two usual social environments of home and the workplace.


In Beijing, a Brand-New Old Quarter (nytimes)
But while most of the old residential areas of Beijing that have been demolished were transformed into zones of high-rise hotels, shopping centers and office buildings, Dashalar has been converted, perhaps ironically, back into what it once was — or, more accurately, into an idealized, postcard version of what it once was, a shopping street lined by three-story traditional Chinese buildings, with balconies above the first floor, latticed balustrades, red columns, bright gold-leaf Chinese signs against backgrounds of black wood.

I think part of it may be that when developers rip out the old neighborhoods to build apartment buildings, there's nowhere to hang out. On the other hand the people moving into the apartments are see it as an vast improvement with things like modern plumbing.

Note that I haven't been there, or made even a casual study of urbanism, chinese culture etc. In that note here's a lecture about a book I haven't read:
http://www.asiasociety.org/video/arts-culture/the-last-days-old-beijing
(flash video - 1 hr., 12 min.)
Longtime Beijing resident Michael Meyer discusses the publication of his new memoir, The Last Days of Old Beijing.

nytimes book review
extract

There appears to be quite a bit here:
http://movingcities.org/movingmemos/hutong-histories-part-1/
movingcities is a Beijing-based think-thank investigating the role that architecture and urbanism play in shaping the contemporary city.

posted by sebastienbailard at 9:02 AM on August 26, 2009 [5 favorites]


I used to think Ikea products were "flimsy and short-lived." This was based on my experience around 10 years ago with a couple of pieces of furniture that basically fell apart after 2-3 years. In more recent years, I needed to purchase a bunch of furniture, and I gave Ikea another shot. I have been very happy with the quality -- pretty much everything is just as strong and sound today as it was when I bought it 1-3 years ago. Plus, it was affordable and looks nice.

I have no idea what people are doing with their Ikea furniture such that it only lasts "months." Are you parking your car on an Ektorp sofa?
posted by brain_drain at 9:04 AM on August 26, 2009


The 'ell are you two doing to your Ikea furniture? I've made several shelving units and a table and they are going on strong now for two, three years?
posted by cavalier at 9:05 AM on August 26, 2009


I use a person's opinion of Ikea* as a litmus test. If they think it's all flimsy, then they're most likely the type with poor-to-non-existent crafting skills, someone who thinks they're smarter than the designer, someone with a bad eye for quality, or someone who doesn't take care of their furniture.

You do need to at least be competent with tools to properly put together Ikea. That means fully tightening each screw, and following directions. Following directions means putting it together as intended: if a shelf unit was designed with a back, that back is a necessary stabilizer. Ikea products are always on the floor, you can try them all out and check them out for quality: everything that looks cheap is cheap, and everything else will last a long time. If all these other aspects are untrue about the person, it means they just don't know how to care for objects. Even the most well-crafted chair will fall apart if you flop into it instead of sitting down like an adult. I had a roommate ruin his own $300 chair because he would literally drop himself into it.

*Ikea as furniture. I can definitely understand not liking the stores, or the aesthetic over all.
posted by explosion at 9:06 AM on August 26, 2009 [17 favorites]


All the furniture I own is made of particle board
It's all I can afford particle board
Is this what I've been working my whole life for?
Four walls and a door, particle board

If I ever move I'll leave it here on the floor
To move would cost more than my particle board
My life sucks and it can't be ignored
All I can afford is particle board
posted by crapmatic at 9:08 AM on August 26, 2009 [9 favorites]


when I was a kid one of the family weekend outings was going to look at model houses in new developments. We weren't in the market, nor planning to move. it was just fun. My sisters and I loooooved it. the models were always decorated (a lot like a spec house) with plastic runners on the carpet to keep it clean. we used to dare each other to step off the plastic. ooooh naughty!!

we also used to go to the mall (new jersey) after dinner, just to stroll around and look at stuff, although sometimes to buy. I think its a very normal thing.
posted by supermedusa at 9:11 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


At least the people in Beijing seem to be getting something out of it. When I go to IKEA, I see people notshopping all the time. Hell, I've BEEN someone notshopping at IKEA on more than one occasion. Just kinda looking around, at all the crap, seeing what's on sale, playing "What's this?" or "Should I buy this? It's SO cheap!".
posted by 23skidoo at 9:12 AM on August 26, 2009


The problem isn't that it's flimsy when you first buy it, or even thereafter. The problem is that Ikea furniture can only survive N-1 moves, where N is the number of moves you'd expect a $500 bed frame to survive.
posted by 1adam12 at 9:13 AM on August 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


If they think it's all flimsy

they might be the type of people who can only afford the cheapest of ikea furniture (like me!). I got a table and four chairs for ~$100 and they are definitely flimsy, in the sense that the wood is super soft and over time the screws work themselves out and strip the holes. Thankfully I rarely use it, so it's managed to hold together for ~4 years.
posted by scrutiny at 9:19 AM on August 26, 2009


I have no idea what people are doing with their Ikea furniture such that it only lasts "months." Are you parking your car on an Ektorp sofa?

I never understood this sentiment either. I have several Ikea bookcases about 25 years old and they show no signs of falling apart.
posted by emeiji at 9:19 AM on August 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


If they think it's all flimsy, then they're most likely the type with poor-to-non-existent crafting skills, someone who thinks they're smarter than the designer, someone with a bad eye for quality, or someone who doesn't take care of their furniture.

Really, explosion?

Thanks a fuckin' bunch:)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 9:21 AM on August 26, 2009


Ever since my first trip to IKEA 4 years ago I've had this fantasy:

Step 1: Become or marry an IKEA store manager, or find some other way to have keys and alarm codes to the building.

Step 2: Gather as many friends or fun-loving strangers as I can find & go to the store at midnight.

Step 3: Divide into teams & play the greatest game of hide and seek EVER!!!!
posted by philotes at 9:27 AM on August 26, 2009 [11 favorites]


yeah, further in the "it's not as cheap as it looks" dept, my kitchen table was something like $80 in '94. It is the cheapest of the cheap Ikea kitchen tables. it's soft pine. And it's a solid as the day I bought it 15 years ago.

The dog did break a leg in half once when he barreled into it. The table still stood there on three legs and the dog looked as confused as I'd ever seen him. Some wood glue and a clamp and now you'd never even know it happened.

Also, does everyone not go into Ikea and nap on the sofas? In what way is this article odd at all? It's also the only store with child care which is a pretty big deal if you've got a three year-old and you need to concentrate on choosing a bed or whatever.
posted by GuyZero at 9:33 AM on August 26, 2009


In my experience, IKEA furniture that's made out of actual wood stands up pretty well. I have a pine kitchen table that's a dozen years old and doing fine, likewise the Poang chair. The composite board and laminate stuff, not so much. We ended up tossing a big chunk of our IKEA furniture after we moved because the cheaper materials got so beat up.
posted by octothorpe at 9:33 AM on August 26, 2009


Step 3: Divide into teams & play the greatest game of hide and seek EVER!!!!

Dude, paintball.
posted by The Whelk at 9:38 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


In Beijing, a Brand-New Old Quarter

You know I too am one of the legion of laowai that lament the bulldozing of old Beijing. My wife and I spent as much time as we could soaking in the ancient history of Qianmen as the wrecking crews were busy making it shrink around us. I was put in my place by a Chinese friend once though when bitching about "progress." He told me that he too laments the loss of history and community in his hometown, but that it is mighty eliteist of us to think that the history in the rotting ramshackle hutongs somehow trumps the residents' right to simple "comforts" of modern life such as access to a toilet that one doesn't have to share with the thousand other people that live on your block.
posted by Pollomacho at 9:39 AM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


GuyZero: It's also the only store with child care

God, I loved Småland when I was a little kid.
posted by Kattullus at 9:43 AM on August 26, 2009


I have called my local Ikea "A free Disneyland for adults", and I'm not even that old. Bright colors, pretty things, cheap-ass food, and all those little rooms are like Worlds of Tomorrow, if only I get my act together. It's downright inspiring.

At least it was until that whole font unpleasantness.
posted by redsparkler at 9:44 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


A crowded shopping center in Beijing!?!?!??! And on a weekend no less! Wow, must have searched far and wide.

This phenomenon is just... everywhere in Beijing and most major Chinese cities that I've been to during the summer months.
posted by bluejayk at 10:25 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Shanghai blogger Wang Jian Shuo has some posts about Ikea, including the time he tucked in his little son into one of the beds at Ikea and how when Ikea first opened in Shanghai, it was considered outrageously expensive.

For me, the best thing about Ikea in Beijing is that they carry delicious and cheap Swedish ginger snaps for the price of about 6 RMB a box (that's about $1 USD). Never mind all the folks hanging around and taking the photos, the food hall is absolutely the bomb. A Swedish friend of mine even got another Swede a birthday cake from Ikea, he said it was the only place in Beijing that carried that particular kind of cake.
posted by so much modern time at 10:30 AM on August 26, 2009


I enjoy visiting the IKEA here in San Diego. The shopping area tends to concentrate foreign travelers and it is entertaining to listen to the various languages and people watch as noted earlier in this thread.
posted by andendau at 10:41 AM on August 26, 2009


Anyone who says IKEA makes only flimsy products has never owned a Jerker Desk

Bombproof.
posted by jeffmik at 10:49 AM on August 26, 2009


Ah, different cultures. Always fascinating to compare.

In China IKEA is family entertainment. In the US IKEA is where young couples in love have their first experience of relationship disillusionment and fatigue.

It's always cracked me up how the people entering IKEA (holding hands, all in love, looking forward to furnishing the place they're going to move into together) look so very different from the people exiting it (10 feet apart, with dark clouds over their heads and 15 items in their carts, each of which on of them likes and one of them despises).
posted by Hairy Lobster at 11:01 AM on August 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


Long ago, in days of yore...
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 11:08 AM on August 26, 2009


Daughter at the Shanghai Ikea.
The HORRORS of IKEA......... thread on ShanghaiExpat forums.
posted by msittig at 11:13 AM on August 26, 2009


their solid wood chairs are flimsy.... but what do you expect for $20?

but, to get back to the font thread, I feel like their design is drifting like the design of japanese cars: more pointless styling, less function, bigger, heavier, more expensive. that honda accord looks distressing like a ugly bloated american automobile.
posted by geos at 11:20 AM on August 26, 2009



This. My brother-in-law's a firefighter. When a bunch of us went to Ikea, which was new to him, he was shocked at every turn: The place is stuffed full of flammable materials, but fire exits (let alone escape routes) are all but non-existent in that giant labyrinth.


Maybe a year ago at the Ikea here in Atlanta, mist in the ventilation system set off the smoke alarms. It was a crowded Saturday, I think I was there to buy a lamp. I kid you not, lights seemed to descend from the ceiling, flashing in a pattern towards the emergency exits, not unlike the way the lights in the aisle of an airplane point you towards the door. Ikea employees who I had never seen before appeared out of nowhere (they may have been androids). They reassured everyone and guided people towards the exits. The shoppers, myself included, left the store through a huge, somewhat hidden, staircase which led outdoors. The children from the daycare were led out holding hands supervised by several of the employees there. It was scary. I felt like I was on the Enterprise NCC-1701-D during the first season of TNG, when they did saucer separation every time there was a fight. I think IKEA is from the future. But that could be all of the Doctor Who I've been watching lately talking.
posted by goHermGO at 11:22 AM on August 26, 2009 [27 favorites]


IKEA is really about process + design + a marketing idea. IKEA designers have pretty large demands placed on them. They must not only design stuff that satisfies the customer's needs and has aesthetic appeal, but has to satisfy the needs of a very specific process. That process in turn is built around the single most important marketing idea they have: provide the best value. That's where the concept of the customer taking on part of the cost proposition comes in: assembly. So you must design it in such a way that the average consumer can put it together with minimal tools (usually provided) in a very few steps, with minimal chance of things going wrong, and with simple instructions which minimize the need for customer service. That is already very difficult, and made much harder when you throw in the other requirements, plus the need for the components to be thought out in such a way as to make production a simple and inexpensive process, from materials through manufacture. Then behind the scenes, they have a very sophisticated operation of production sourcing and distribution. Really, there is a lot that goes into the IKEA model.

I do shop at IKEA, as much for the product as to satisfy my fascination with design. I like to examine how the products are thought out, and most of the time I'm very impressed. Now, not all designs are successful, but most designers are very, very good indeed. I think people underestimate them, based on some vague idea that inexpensive/cheap = poor quality. The truth is, most of the time IKEA simply represents very good value. They accomplish that by pushing down costs with the help of clever design and fanatical devotion to cutting costs along the entire chain, without sacrificing quality.

Anyhow, when shopping for furniture or household goods, I always have an open mind, and being interested in design, I like to explore as many options as possible. Yet, I find myself coming back to IKEA a lot of the time (when I'm looking for something practical, rather than the unique). I find their designs to really be some of the best, with some of the best quality(!). And frankly, often the aesthetic is superior too. When I moved 3 years ago, I went looking for a couch - and I took my sweet time, and I looked far and wide (however, all in Los Angeles, CA). Nowhere could I find the simple functional aesthetic I was looking for, except for IKEA - and the IKEA piece was 50% cheaper than the nearest competitor too. So, I ended up with yet another IKEA item.

In some ways, I wish there was a competitor to IKEA - in both design and price. Competition is always good. However, IKEA is very dominant due to the process and marketing they established - it will be hard to dislodge them.
posted by VikingSword at 11:34 AM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


Then again, I loathed the "delightful" Waitress

That movie was complete shit from top to bottom.
posted by adamdschneider at 11:54 AM on August 26, 2009


I can't believe there are only two posts on here mentioning child care at Ikea. When I first had my kid and was hallucinating spiders and bright, flashing lights due to sleep deprivation, my husband and I would drive from Athens to Atlanta -- 1 & 1/2 hours, folks -- just so I could leave the little Termagant at Ikea's day care facilities and sit quietly on a couch that did not smell like rancid breast milk. And I KNOW I am not the only person who did this. My husband and I discussed the ethics of actually leaving little Termagant at the day care and going out to a movie, or even just for a walk, but then we saw a news article about how people were actually doing this, causing Ikea to have to join forces with Child Protective Services.

The first time I went to the Atlanta Ikea, I was getting my Master's in public health, had just given birth, and had just watched Sicko, where there was a lengthy clip about the government in France helping new moms with their laundry. Already personally bitter about my crappy grad school insurance and the cost of having a kid, as well as highly anxious about what I'd do with Termagant when school started again, I walked into Ikea, took one look at the child care kiosk in the lobby, and burst into hoarse, braying sobs. Rub it in, Swedes. Even your FURNITURE STORES have free child care. I was so hoping I'd be offered reasonably priced health care in the bathroom fixtures section of the store, but no such luck.

I can't go to Ikea without feeling sad. Child care in a furniture store? F*&^$( socialists.
posted by staggering termagant at 12:39 PM on August 26, 2009 [21 favorites]


Anyone who says IKEA makes only flimsy products has never owned a Jerker Desk

Agreed, jeffmik. The Jerker's an amazing, uber-heavy, hugely sturdy desk. And the bastards discontinued it before I could buy all the cool accouterments.

I still weep tears of rage and despair over this.
posted by artemisia at 12:40 PM on August 26, 2009


Also, dickwhiffer. Thanks so much, I'll be using that often.
posted by staggering termagant at 12:40 PM on August 26, 2009


Tables, chairs, and shelves? Even if laminate, no problem.

Dressers, on the other hand... when three sweaters is too much weight for a drawer, it's shit. Still cheap for furniture, but a tad expensive for particle board. That said, it makes it easier to justify the upgrade to real wood next time.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:48 PM on August 26, 2009


My husband's and my first date was at Ikea. He was a typical dude in that he only had a futon and a bowl and a spoon.

Ikea was the perfect place for him to get some damn furniture. He loved it, he loves me. We've been married for 7 years now.

Yea Ikea! It is, what it is!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:06 PM on August 26, 2009


We bought Ikea furniture after our son was born for rooms where we knew he and the dogs would spend a lot of time. Is it heirloom stuff? No. It's never going to see the inside of a museum. But the Ektorp sofa has removable covers. REMOVABLE COVERS! That can be washed in a washing machine.

Do you have any idea how valuable that is when you have children? It's a godsend.

Plus, they have/had things like coffee tables with built in drawers, kids furniture that looked like something out of Dr. Seuss, and all of it inexpensive enough that when Boy outgrew his "big boy" bed into a real bed, it was painless to disassemble and donate to charity.

Plus, they have all kinds of fun kitchen stuff like ice cube trays in fun shapes (which are great for jello...and soap), the kid-size desks are sturdy enough to stand up to kids...and free daycare when you go to the store. Who doesn't love free kid parking?

I'm just sad that there isn't an IKEA close to me, really.
posted by dejah420 at 2:35 PM on August 26, 2009


I like IKEA. I have a simple computer desk that cost maybe $30, and I don't see it "falling apart" anytime soon. Ditto to dining room table and full-sized bed I bought. It looks good, too.

The furniture is pretty cheap, but the real steal at IKEA are the kitchenware/houseware areas. A big frypan for $3? A silverware set for $5? Wow. When I discovered that, I thought why oh why hadn't I discovered IKEA when I was a college student, gradually accumulating that kind of stuff? Oh yeah, because IKEA wasn't around then.
posted by zardoz at 3:44 PM on August 26, 2009


This sorta reminds me of old pictures of groups of Americans standing out on the sidewalk to watch TV through store windows, before everyone had a TV.
posted by Danf at 3:51 PM on August 26, 2009


Weekend Ikea: crowded, miserable

Weekday Ikea: peaceful, pleasant


Amen.

NEVER shop at IKEA in Hong Kong on a weekend if you value your sanity. The store is filled with looky-loos who aren't even remotely interested in buying anything. They clog the aisles and make the whole experience miserable.

At least on a weekday I can cut through the maze quickly to get what I need and get the Hell out.
posted by bwg at 4:32 PM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


On another note: 1965 IKEA looks the same as it does today.
posted by bwg at 4:38 PM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I like putting together IKEA furniture. Is that weird? And bolts never fall out of my Poang chairs, unlike my Ethan Allen dining room chairs, which were assembled for me, badly. Plus, I had enough money left over to buy fabric and make washable covers for them. The cats can puke on them as much as they want. (And they have!)
posted by zinfandel at 6:45 PM on August 26, 2009


This is kind of... sad, I suppose. How badly off does your country have to be where an IKEA is considered weekend entertainment?

When my wife and I lived in Sydney, Australia, we used to do this all the time with the huge Ikea that was within walking distance. Sometimes we'd even buy some stuff.

But yeah, Australia's pretty bad off, it's true.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:53 PM on August 26, 2009


the only thing I've had fall apart that was from ikea is this little end table - but that's because my drunk-ass friends keep falling onto it.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 8:15 PM on August 26, 2009


In fact I always thought the cafeteria was very much the central focus of all IKEA stores till I visited the one in Pittsburgh while in college.

Used to consult a client whose offices were very close to one of IKEA's Singapore stores. The team _loved_ to go to IKEA for lunch, despite there being a quintillion cheap lunch options in the area (including, as it happens, Singapore's only hawker-stall selling Romanian food; different tale that). I still occasionally go to IKEA for the food; the salmon there is excellent.

Weekday Ikea: peaceful, pleasant
8PM on a Sunday night. You have 1 hour-ish to find your stuff; there are zero crowds or raucous kids to deal with. As a bonus, you have another 45 minutes to enjoy that salmon and that heavenly chocolate cheesecake.

(Also, IKEA in Singapore doesn't automatically mean cheap; it's just that there's exactly one or two models for every item that would fit the definition of 'cheap'. If you really want cheap, the hypermarts are a better bet, although the quality would definitely be a concern. Also, no salmon and chocolate cheesecake.)
posted by the cydonian at 11:16 PM on August 26, 2009


zinfandel: I like assembling Ikea things too. It's the satisfaction of solving a puzzle, along with an easy outlet for the urge to Make Things.

Most of the storage stuff I have is Ikea. The two floor-to-ceiling bookshelves I just assembled will increase the awesomeness of my one-bedroom flat by no small amount.
posted by Pallas Athena at 1:07 AM on August 27, 2009


8PM on a Sunday night. You have 1 hour-ish to find your stuff; there are zero crowds or raucous kids to deal with.

Not at the Brooklyn Ikea. My wife and I can show you our emotional scars from Sunday-night shopping trips.
posted by brain_drain at 8:17 AM on August 27, 2009


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