Anyone who enjoys visiting IKEA is a psychopath, plain and simple. What was designed to maximise spending activity more closely resembles an existential hamster wheel; one where you’re presented with sickeningly sweet instances of domestic bliss, fed lies about individuality while three other families build the exact same lounge room, Owl City & Carly Rae Jepsen’s ‘It’s Always A Good Time‘ plays on a goddamn loop – and the only way out is straight through. As a small act of mercy, IKEA is now testing a store layout that actually allows you to escape on your own terms.
In an effort to remain relevant in the age of e-commerce, Ingka Holding BV – the entity which operates the majority of IKEA retail fronts – has reopened its location in the Xuhui district of Shanghai after a major renovation. A second updated interior format is also set to appear in Vienna, right next to the Austrian capital’s Westbahnhof train station. But with the removal of its one-track aisle maze comes a different kind of trap: suspiciously comfortable hangout spaces to drain your precious hours away (“become part of the furniture,” as industry media reports have eerily phrased it).
According to The Wall Street Journal, this will be a space where customers “… can conceivably spend hours doing things other than shopping.” The traditional showrooms and shops are to be joined by cushioned, theatre-like areas to chill – or as much as one can “chill” in the seventh layer of Hell – restaurants showcasing “sustainable food practices” like urban farming, as well as a Maker’s Hub workshop where IKEA staff can help customers repair old / build new furniture items. Activities being introduced range from something known as light therapy, to meeting some “influencers.” Both of which sound like extremely productive uses of time.
“We wanted to basically start from scratch and say, ‘How could we imagine a store of tomorrow, the store where the customer is not going anymore to just buy a Billy bookcase?’” says Stefan Vanoverbeke, Global Deputy Retail Manager of IKEA.
This won’t, however, mark the end of the nightmare. Vanoverbeke explains IKEA plan on assessing sales figures and collect customer feedback at the new stores to determine which aspects of the new store layout works, which don’t, and where development might be necessary before making any sweeping decision.
“Based upon that, we will decide which parts we feel are ready to be rolled out in other stores.”
Stay frosty out there, people. The devil works hard but IKEA works harder.