IKEA and The Embrace of Design Democracy, Part 1

Three syllables, four unique letters spelled out in capitals, universally recognized and easy to pronounce: IKEA. The company comes by its name from the initials of the founder’s name, farm and village.

Oh IKEA. What are your magical powers? A visit to this store always conjures in me the same initial feeling: one that is a clear sense of excitement as to what I might see, learn or experience with how furnishings and accessories are placed, highlighted, and sometimes magnified for the purposes of emulating real-life living. As an interior stylist, I head out on an adventure, strolling along the sometimes sinuous but always crowded pathways towards all sorts of things and through all kinds of departments: lighting, linens, kitchens, cupboards, bathrooms, bedrooms, and miscellaneous items galore. Fresh ideas are sometimes spurred by inspiration through the chaos. Here you’ll find sheer volumes of things on-trend, and occasionally a noddingly clever re-invention of classic winning looks and styles of decades gone by from Scandinavia to Africa to the Far East. In fact, IKEA’s design influences are borderless and limitless but with an overarching appeal by customers across the globe, who just keep coming back.

This week, leading up to the Interior Design Show in Toronto, IKEA is one of the design topics on my mind. As an industry, we can talk “design” and easily lose connection to a large audience. On the other hand, IKEA is design democracy embraced.