Monday, October 10, 2005


In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue and discovered America, thus paving the way for a long weekend and a million end of year car sales.

This morning, I discovered Sweden, land of wooden simplicity, high-functionality, and slightly curved design concepts. And oh, it is good.

And forget about the furniture. From the moment you land on its yellow-shirted shores, IKEA's concept takes over on a more organic, environmental level, complete and comprehensive from micro to macro. From the family-friendly parking up agaist the building sidewalk to the conveniently-placed lunch-counter -- featuring 99 cent breakfasts and a thin but clearly gourmet assorment of gravlax, shrimp salads, and swedish meatball platters -- IKEA is a miracle of modern consumerist design.

There is only one way in, one single staircase upwards; from there, following the huge arrows on each of the two floors (you can't walk through walls, so what else are you going to do?) eventually puts you within arms reach of every single item in the store.

When the children get tired, sign them in to the kid's playspace for an hour, where they will presumably be indoctrinated into some weird swedish cult and forever worship at the altar of uncomplicated but elegant hardwood furniture. I swear, the usually loquatious three-year-old was in there for the fully alloted shift, but when she emerged all we could get out of her was a prim confirmation that she "didn't want to go home, just go somewhere else."

And they will get tired. It takes five hours to go through the place at a relatively rapid pace, maybe a little less if, like us, you begin to accelerate your journey as you realize you have been shopping for hours and there's no end in sight.

We ate two meals, both involving a breed of french fries suprisingly akin in look and feel to much of IKEA's furniture, and bought a few tidbits -- a crawling tube and a nifty coocoon-chair for the wee one, a freestanding shirtrack for the laundry room, random knick-knacks for kitchen, bed and bath.

But since this week's trip was for ideas, not objects, we got what we needed. Proof positive: the kids have been in bed for ages, and I'm up in seven hours for another long stretch with the preteens, but for hours and hours, now, the wife and I have been walking through the house, blueprints in hand, envisioning shelving here, couch and loveseat here, a new bed, better chandelier, a TV cabinet.

Which means we'll be heading back the the land of plenty in a week or two. With a truck, no doubt. Maybe next time we'll make it for breakfast. Ask Queen Isabella if she wants anything, will you?

posted by boyhowdy | 9:35 PM |

Jonathan Coulton has a fantastic song about Ikea (called, appropriately, "Ikea") which is online .

Er. That link didn't quite work. It's here:
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