Monday, November 12, 2007

Planet IKEA

David Byrne of the Talking Heads went to IKEA for the first time - and realized that it was actually a videogame. I think anyone who has ever visited the place can identify:

Walk-in Videogame
IKEA is huge. We went up to the second floor where the shelves, sofas, tables and lamps are all arrayed into tasteful little room settings — rooms, but with mysterious tags hanging everywhere. Immediately I thought it was like entering a videogame world. Who lives here? What do they do? Why is that book on the table? Is that significant? Could it be some kind of clue to the occupant’s identity?

Why does everything have weird names? Every container, shelf, cabinet or appliance had some odd name, as if people from Planet Sweden anthropomorphized these objects, naming each one they encountered as best they could**:

BESTA
HEDDA
BJARNUM
LERBERG
INREDA
EKTORP
GRUNDTON
BERTA
KARNA

One soon realizes that one of the goals of this “game” is to decide which cabinets, in which wood or wood-like material, would, could or should be combined with which counter materials, and then to match them to a particular style sofa and upholstery, and finally, to select the color and texture of floor material that would coordinate best with all the above....

Once one gets some of this figured out — scratch pads might help — moving on to the next level of game play is a possibility. One goes through the restaurant wormhole (the food was good) and emerges at the next universe: picking out the flat-packed cabinet and furniture bits stacked in a world of endless towering shelves. As far as the eye can see there are shelves, tall shelves, much, much higher than a person can reach. The weird language is used here too.

1 comment:

jordan bailey said...

Ah, I love David Byrne and I love IKEA! I never thought about it that way, but he's exactly right...next time I go I might have to make weird video game noises as I shuffle around the store.

For some reason, IKEA struck a chord here in Houston - they are wildly successful here and I've heard that ours is one of their most successful stores overall. I've lost count of the number of times I've left because I was unable to find a single parking spot - and that's after they expanded the parking lot a couple of years ago.