Friday, February 10, 2012

Swedish for value

The world of Ikea never ceases to leave me in awe. The enormity of its heavily systematised operation and its vision, rendered seemingly idealistic by the intended scope of its application, seem far removed from what it seeks to shape: the home life of the individual.
It provides thousands of blank canvases, each available in a range of colours, onto which people may project their lives. In the showroom, each reductive design is presented in a carefully orchestrated, diagrammatic dollhouse, amongst which spectral families operate, evidenced by the “our 35m2 house”-s and “my kitchen”-s that hang above each scene.

The pretended familiarity of Ikea’s approach throws into contrast the consequent sterility of its mass produced design. Becoming almost repugnant, it is paradoxically this same contrast that makes it so infinitely fixating for me.  

To what extent does Ikea try to mask its identity as a transnational corporation seeking to, as all good companies should, increase its profit? To what extent does its cost cutting, relied upon so heavily as a point of marketing, make this status evident to its customers? 

Either way, in terms of mass producibility, ease of assembly and cost effectiveness, the furniture designs are, on the whole, ingenious - almost as much as the business model is fascinating.

It will be interesting to see how its design principles/business strategy fare on an even larger scale. 

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