What is She Saying When She Says IKEA?

My wife dropped a suggestion at dinner.

It landed just south of the salad and lay there ticking like a time bomb while I considered the implications.

“Let’s go to IKEA tomorrow,” she said.

I had to think about that.

What was she really saying and why IKEA?

To understand the why, one must first understand the what?

What is IKEA?

IKEA is to retail what Volvo is to cars – both Swedish and terribly strange.

The company specialize in inexpensive household furnishings; all made from three basic ingredients: particle board, Tupperware and meatballs.   These materials are then fashioned into a bewildering array of products that satisfy every possible human desire.

But what makes IKEA truly delightful is its odd product names.

Let’s explore them.

IKEA Naming Guide:

Warning!!!  Even linguists who can speak bar-code have been injured while attempting to pronounce IKEA product names. Never attempt this without proper training by a certified instructor.

Product Category Product Name
Upholstered furniture, coffee tables and doorknobs Swedish place names that even Swedes cannot pronounce
Beds, wardrobes and hall furniture Words not allowed in scrabble
Dining tables and chairs Finnish ghost towns
Bookcases and office aids Forgotten occupations
Bathroom articles Scandinavian bogs and tidal flats
Kitchen appliances Swedish tongue twisters
Desks Hotentot evil spirits
Curtains Sri Lankan women’s names
Garden furniture Volvo part numbers
Carpets Words discovered in Danish pastry
Lighting Chemical compounds
Bed-linens, covers, pillows and cushions Errors found on 3rd grade spelling tests

The IKEA Store Experience.

IKEA stores are designed in a “one-way” layout.

Think of walking through a McDonald’s play-land built for adults. The purpose is to trap you for the better part of an afternoon. Having wasted so much time there, you feel compelled to buy something.

An unaccompanied adult in good health can sprint through an IKEA store in less than two hours. I estimated our adventure would take at least eight hours because all she said she wanted was a reading lamp.

What I should have asked at dinner was, “Why IKEA?”

To understand her answer, there are a few things you must know:

  • IKEA furniture is incredibly cheap.
  • It is where college kids go to outfit their dorm rooms.
  • It is the next stop for young lovers after signing their first lease.
  • It is the place where young families go to furnish a house on a negative budget.

In short, IKEA is where adult life begins.

So why would a grandmother want to go there?

At the very first display, she drew my attention to a one room apartment furnished entirely in particle board and Tupperware.

“Isn’t that CUTE!!” she cried.

It is then I knew what she was doing.

She wasn’t interested in my opinion on modular couches or kitchen utensils named after fish. She hadn’t gone to IKEA to shop at all.

She went there to dream.

What she was really saying when she said IKEA, was “Come with me for a day and let’s do what we used to do when we were young and life was open to every promise.  Let’s dream together again.”