Theme: Places – Destinations

Much driving tends to be routine: schools, works, shops, petrol stations and futile trips to Ikea…

Hell: source
Hell: source

…where you remember why it is you hate the place and never want to come back. I am quite far along with that resolution now. It has taken about 14 years to realise that everything they sell is worse than useless and that even focused purchases such as a child’s desk will end in disappointment (the hole in the top surface for the lamp cable is very annoying).

The Ikea experience is heavily suburban. It relies on a large, cheap expanse of land which is usually a long way from human habitations. This entails a large expanse of carparking. In tandem then there is a bleak desert packed with cars (MPVs, estates, SUVs and never interesting old roadsters) and a massive blue oblong into which one’s soul and life force is sucked.

The interior is designed like an intestine: it is long, sinuous and arranged to present seemingly essential items to tempt you to spend your money: a bright orange toothbrush holder, packets of serviettes for nearly no pence, an armchair for the price of a basket of groceries, all crammed into the windowless world of their display areas. It is a cross between a Guantanamo Bay holding cell and a furniture catalogue.

I resent the long walk from the car to the blue oblong and I resent being treated like an item of food being digested: and we know what that makes you feel like at the end when you are asked to beep your own goods and self-serve on Ikea’s behalf. Nothing in Ikea is free except your labour at the self-serve check-outs.

Chantilly, France: source
Chantilly, France: source

Ikea have a motto at the moment: room for life. You will not find one single cubic millimetre of space for sale in Ikea but rather things that take up space. The only way to respond to the urge to drive to Ikea is to throw away the things that need to be stored and go for a drive to some other destination instead, like a park, the city centre or your in-laws.

Before starting this I intended to write about a road trip to Chantilly.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

4 thoughts on “Theme: Places – Destinations”

  1. Not all Ikea stores are in the suburbs. For example, https://www.google.com/maps/dir/”/ikea+philadelphia/@39.9168959,-75.211752,12z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m8!4m7!1m0!1m5!1m1!1s0x89c6c8b2d85cab5d:0x6311fc151459e887!2m2!1d-75.141712!2d39.916917
    The South Philadelphia Ikea is, however, on relatively inexpensive land. As expected, it has a large parking lot.

  2. It all sounds quite depressing.

    After an absence of over 30 years, IKEA is about to return to our area of Halifax NS. For 9 years until 1986 we had early IKEA, when Billy was Billy and the super-cheapo no door storage units were made 200 km down the road of good Nova Scotia timber. Horseflesh-loaded Swedish meatballs were not in evidence. We got the impression that Scandinavians lived surrounded by bright cheery inexpensive colours, cheap but expensively-priced leather, and beds made from slats covered in 5o mm thin foam mattresses for some inexplicably strange form of self-flaggellation. The instructions were apochryphal, but that was part of the legend.

    As their first foray to North America was to a small metropolitan area, profits obviously did not meet expectations as the IKEA machine grew globally, so they up and left us for more populous areas. Loyalty? None. The Volvo people locally were in shock! Shock I tell you.

    The new place will look depressingly like the photo above and the parking area is as we say just Yuge on the plans. Since I haven’t been in an IKEA since 1986, I am expecting changes in all but ubiquitous Allen keys and lack of decent assembly instructions. That and hundreds of items that don’t quite hit the mark.

  3. We actually have an inner-city IKEA here in good ol’ Hamburg, one of the very first of its kind, actually.

    The multi-storey car park is mostly half-deserted, and the main source of income is feeding Köttbullar to school children, rather than selling carpets and Billies to students and young families. It hasn’t had as devastating an effect on its neighbourhood in terms of traffic and rent increases, but the main business model doesn’t seem to work either. So could we call this a decent kind of compromise?

    But apart from that, I can only stress that I’m appalled by IKEA and most of the things the place and business stand for. It stands for the the kind of cheapness (as in ‘not good’) that’s burying our culture under layer upon layer of disposable goods. And the rat maze concept of the stores themselves is seriously unsettling to my delicate self.

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