I first saw the Friends episode where Monica takes the gang to her billionaire boyfriend Pete’s house to water the plants ages and ages ago, but the reference in this line only clicked in my head a few years ago:
I blame growing up in India for my lack of IKEA knowledge – while there’s apparently been an IKEA store in Singapore since 1978, India still doesn’t have one – and the fact that it only entered my consciousness about 6 or 7 years ago, which is crazy, because it feels like it’s pretty much the world’s standard point of reference for Sweden now. (Do the Swedes hate IKEA? I feel like they would.)
Though it’s not a place I visit often (both stores in Singapore are kind of out of the way for me), a visit to IKEA feels like what trips to theme parks must feel like for children – time to lose yourself in fantasy land! Many a time have I strolled through the store for hours on end, dipping in and out of every single stock living room and kitchen display, imagining a life of gleaming countertops and minimalist shelves. I’m not much of an architecture and/or interior design-minded person, but something about the way things are set up around the store makes you want to throw out all your furniture, renovate your home and live the IKEA life.
The store also seems to have a smart whiplash strategy in place in terms of prices – you can go from four-digit figures to single-digit figures just by turning a corner, and it makes you want to scoop up the latter all the more. The kitchen section is particularly clever this way – even people with wildly inconsistent cooking habits in years may be tempted into imagining a life where they cook regularly, and subsequently buying cheap kitchenware they have no use for. (No, I really, really did not need 17 conveniently-stacked storage containers, dammit!)
I recently visited IKEA with my mom for some furniture shopping, and added one more thing to the list of reasons to go there – the food. IKEA is mostly famous for its Swedish meatballs, so I’ve never really had a reason to eat there (also, it’s always bugged me that it even has a cafeteria section – why?!), but recently, they expanded their menu to embrace the vegetarians as well, and well, I had to try it. One bowl of mushroom soup, and a plate of spiced couscous and vegetable balls (that sounds way worse than meatballs, doesn’t it?) later, I declare this to be another IKEA success.
I know there are people who consider IKEA to be too mainstream and too indicative of a frugal lifestyle, but even without the good food (again, why?!) and affordable furniture, you’ve got to love a franchise that is practically the pun-lover’s dream, no?