Paris metro gets an IKEA design upgrade

Mass transportation sure is convenient, but it’s often far from comfortable. Hard plastic seating. Harsh fluorescent lighting. Pungent smells. It’s not the type of environment where you linger longer than necessary. Global furniture uber-retailer IKEA feels your pain and is trying to do something about it – at least temporarily.

From now until March 24th, the company is giving four Paris Metro Stops an interior design makeover, complete with comfy couches and warm mood lighting. Considering the state of your average urban subway stop, covered in old chewing gum and smelling of urine, the idea seems like a good one. IKEA gets some attention-grabbing advertising and riders get a comfy place to chill out while they wait.

The question remains – how long will those couches stay clean? It’s one thing to enjoy an IKEA couch in your home, but with over 10 million residents in greater Paris, you’ve gotta wonder how long those seats are going to stay clean…

IKEA accused of teasing Denmark

I recently wrote about the language of IKEA and how the global furniture giant names all of its products. If you remember, many pieces of furniture, like sofas, wardrobes and bookshelves, are named after places in Norway and Sweden. Denmark on the other hand gets stuck with doormats and carpets. Apparently this has caused a recent Danish uproar, blaming IKEA for naming products of lesser value after places in Denmark as a way to spite it.

“It [IKEA’s naming system] is too systematic for this to be random because IKEA is a very professional company. This can only be a way of teasing Denmark,” stated Nyhedsavisen, a free daily Danish newspaper, on Valentine’s Day.

This may all seem like a joke, but some Danes are taking it very seriously, as pointed out by Assistant Political Communication Professor at the University of Copenhagen, Klaus Kjøller, “It seems to be an example of cultural imperialism. IKEA has chosen the objects with the lowest value and given them Danish names.”

Cultural imperialism you say? I didn’t realize IKEA could be such a touchy subject. But then again, would you want a carpet named after you when other countries get the flashier items like beds and coffee tables?


What strange things have been found on planes?

Click the image to read the bizarre story…

GADLING TAKE 5: week of 2-15-2008

Happy Day After Valentine’s Day! If you’re crashing after yesterday’s massive sugar rush, why not just sit down, relax, and peruse the best of this week’s Gadling? Really, it’ll feel good. Better than Valentine’s Day even.

That’s all! Enjoy.

Living in IKEA: It can be done

Anna’s post about IKEA brought back fond memories. Going to IKEA in Singapore and Taiwan were wonderful outings that helped us add affordable, aesthetically pleasing items to our apartments. IKEA saved me from despair in Taiwan. Not that I didn’t absolutely love our Taiwan apartment’s glass coffee and end tables with their chrome legs and the aquamarine colored vinyl-sided couch with its matching chairs.The chairs and couch had chrome legs to match the tables. When the apartment came furnished, I wasn’t quite counting on the colors and chrome. Let’s just say tastes differ. IKEA area rugs and throw pillows helped me tone down the noise a bit.

Each time I visited IKEA, a part of me wanted to live there. Mark Malkoff, a comedian/filmmaker did live in IKEA in Paramus, New Jersey for 6 days in January when his Manhattan apartment was being fumigated for cockroaches. Here’s the YouTube video of Mark’s first day. You’ll see some of the items Anna mentions. All the videos from the six days are on Mark’s Web site, Mark lives in IKEA . Here’s a link to the ABC News clip that gives a rundown of the story.

Straight-up Scandinavia: Learning the language of IKEA

I find that either you love IKEA or you hate it; you can probably ascertain my own leanings by the fact that I am writing this article. Coming from a Scandinavian family, we have friends who used to have stuff shipped from Sweden to the US before the store made its American debut — some people are just truly committed. But seriously, the company’s basic idea was pretty cutting edge back in the 50s when it started designing furniture. “Affordable solutions for comfortable living,” as the company’s motto goes, went along with flat pack and consumer assembled pieces. How intelligent to reduce costs by reducing the volume of a piece of furniture.

IKEA is a Scandinavian institution gone global, and despite whether you love it or hate it, you are bound to end up with one of its products at some point. I mean really, who can resist sleek Scandinavian design? And when you do find yourself with that Nordic sofa, bookcase, or lamp, you might be interested to know exactly what all of the funny names mean. Pyssla, Svala, Visdalen, Gök? Although it may seem like a jumble of Viking vowels, there is some method to the madness. IKEA’s founder Ingvar Kamprad was actually dyslexic, and he found that developing a system where products were named after places and things made it easier for him to remember them. Learning Swedish is great, but learning IKEA? Even better. A guide to deciphering the system that defines the IKEA language, thanks to a little help from the The Guardian:

Scandinavia unite:
Sofas, coffee tables, bookshelves, media storage and doorknobs — I agree, that last one is random — are named after places in Sweden; beds, wardrobes and hall furniture after places in Norway; and carpets after places in Denmark. And don’t think Finland gets left out; Finnish cities and places are the namesake for dining tables and chairs.
In the kitchen
Kitchens themselves — no, cooking in an all-Scandinavian setting does not require you to make meatballs — are normally named after Swedish grammatical terms. Going with the theme of cooking, kitchen utensils are named after spices, herbs, fish, fruit or berries. And just because Scandinavians are such believers in functional things, great words like Burken (meaning “the jar”) describe a line of spice jars.

Vad heter du? What’s your name?
Men’s names tend to go to chairs and desks while materials and curtains are women’s names. My mother has a nice set of place mats and chair pads named after her. I however, with a standard Scandinavian name like Anna, am far too common and get nothing.

Keeping the kids amused
IKEA’s great kids selection — I always get sucked in by the fun colors and random assortment of crazy stuffed animals — are named after mammals, birds and adjectives.

If you think you have all of that down, and have mastered the list of Scandinavian places and words, you can play the IKEA Game, where IKEA product names are picked at random out of a database and your job is to guess what the product is.

And if you are one of those IKEA-dreading individuals, you might want some help with IKEA survival during your next visit.