Friday, August 28, 2009

Real Ikea

I imagine all of you are familiar with Ikea, the Swedish home furnishings store that is all over the place in the US, offering all sorts of put-it-together-yourself furniture and home decorating items, cookware, toys, etc. Our house is largely furnished in early Ikea. The furniture is beastly heavy (being made of particle board with a veneer finish), but is sturdy, easy to assemble, and mostly attractive.

Last night while I was ironing my shirt for work today (I need a butler, dammit), NPR's program The World ran a story titled "Just hanging out at Ikea in Beijing" which was pretty interesting. Ikea opened a large store in Beijing back in 1999, hoping to break into the expected huge Chinese market for home furnishings...but it hasn't quite worked out as intended. Instead of spending some of the vast amount of money that they've imported from America, the Chinese go to Ikea to ... well ... just hang out. It's air conditioned, there's a place to leave your children so they can play, there's a reasonably-priced restaurant, and the store is full of sets of furniture on which you can relax, sleep, read, or whatever. Beijingers go to Ikea in droves - they just don't buy anything...they hang out. Ikea isn't commenting on the phenomenon, other than to say that the Beijing store is a "long-term commitment." Perhaps just not a commitment to profit, but that's their problem.


One of the questions asked of the reporter was how Chinese customers deal with the Ikea custom of giving all it's products Swedish names that are difficult enough for English speakers to deal the Besta and Framsta storage units, or the Komplement, Malm, and Hemnes wardrobe cabinets (right now, I'm sitting at my Galant desk, surrounded by Billy bookshelves, and Benno CD towers). The reporter just laughed and said it was sometimes a challenge.


It got me thinking, as so many things do. Wouldn't it be a good thing if Ikea gave its products names that were more descriptive and appropriate? Instead of calling a chair Ektorp or a dining room table Leksvik, why not make the names more fitting? How about...

The Fatass easy chair?

The Inept government official desk?

The Snorer bedroom set?

The Cleanyerplate dining room table?

Any other ideas from out there? I think we could probably take this a long way...

Have a good day. Hang out at Ikea. Cartoon Saturday is coming...



KKTSews said...

You obviously haven't moved enough! most of my Ikea furniture has been tossed as it did not make the moves well. But then, I didn't bother to disassemble it.
Bookcases are still solid, as you said very heavy, but functioning well. And I think they are the "Billy" ones!
As to your cute names, why would anything in English be any easier for Chinese to pronouce? We westerners have a devil of a time getting the hang of Chinese subtle sounds (same word pronouced different ways means vastly different things). I'll bet the Swedish names are no worse for them than the English ones might be, however cute.
Enjoy your dancing tonight.

Amanda said...

The IKEA in Kuala Lumpur is supposedly the largest outlet in South East Asia. I hung out there all the time when we were still living there. Admittedly, I only ever bought small items like the baby change mat, plastic cups and a bib. The real furniture was good looking but always seemed a little too pricey.

The Mistress of the Dark said...

I want a fatass easy chair!

Mike said...

No Ikea here in St. Louis yet. My daughter and friends go to Chicago to go to one. We're supposed to get one one of these days. It's going to go into a new mall near here. But they haven't torn down the old mall yet so they can build the new one. Something about the economy.

How about the 'empty your bank account' whole house make over.

SusieQ said...

Well let's see here:

1. The "Couchpotato" couch with built-in TV, refrigerator, microwave, and body massage.

2. The "Snoozorama" sofa best suited for Sunday afternoon baseball viewing on TV.

3. The "Luge" recliner for the sluggish sports enthusiast.

4. The "Buyer'sremorse" futon. Comes in bright orange and other annoying colors guaranteed to freak you out in no time.

5. The "EthanAllenWannabe" coffee table with Queen Latifah legs. Part of the Queen Latifah collection.

These items are not likely to sell.

Henry said...

Nice Blog!! Spacify is one of the Dining Room Furniture Stores which has huge collections of Dining Furniture.