Scary stories from a lovely place
Last time Stephen and I visited Dublin a trip to Ikea was one of the things he wanted to do. It seemed strange to me. But Stephen left Ireland before Ikea arrived and moved to a country without it. It’s easy, if one is familiar with something like Ikea, to not feel the novelty of the brand. On that visit Stephen had a great time. His strengths in innovation and design meant that he found a lot of the stuff interesting, and dare I say it, inspiring.
Since living in Australia we have often wanted to visit the new Sydney Ikea but the obstacles of dsitance and children kept getting in the way. Now that we’re in Ireland we have an opportunity to go again together. During the week me, the kids, and the grandparents took a test run.
In some ways, I was dreading it. Ikea sells itself as being family friendly (childcare for over 3’s, changing facilities with free nappies, a luminescent kids section and random play points). Even so, the thought of being trapped in the Ikea maze, unable to escape until I had spiralled down through each section with out of control toddlers is very frightening.
But it went pretty well. There were a few moments of forced restraint and bribery with Grissini sticks (why didn’t I have chocolate biscuits?) but generally we had a good time. The boys jumped on each bed (who is their terrible mother?) and Silas tested each armchair with his Granny. They enjoyed a play area complete with big-screen Peppa Pig (“more, more, more” said Silas) and plastic stools just asking to be pushed around the smooth, screed floor.
After our tour I felt like absolutely everything on the shop floor would enhance my house (not that I have one) and therefore my life. I’ve been trying to figure out what imbues the Ikea brand with this power. There’s the facilities the store offers – restaurant, family friendly, Swedish groceries, robust catalogues and interior design software. Apparently the prices are low, although some things still seemed pretty expensive (but maybe a kitchen costs 5000 Euro?). And of course there’s the intrigue of the unique (although it’s become a cliche) Swedish design.
Of course the aforementioned features are supposed to distract me from the annoying qualities like the self assemble (need I say more? Where’s my allen key?) and the way I have to make note of codes and then collect stuff in a cavernous, very un-Swedish feeling warehouse.
It struck me as I was coveting the entire store that so much of what Ikea sell is centred around storage. Cabinets, boxes on wheels and nifty shelving make up a good chunk of the store. While we were browsing I heard over the Ikea radio station that “everything has it’s own place. Now I’m happy inside!” Really Ikea? All the shit I own stored away neatly is supposed to complete me? I don’t think so. Even if it neatly houses and organises my existing stuff, it’s still just more stuff.
But, too much stuff or not, I’ve made a list to show Stephen, folded pages of the catalogue and am ready to make our visit sometime in the next couple of weeks. I don’t know what it is that has me hooked in? It’s the Scandinavian je ne sais quois.