bork bork bork

The Fam and I braved Portland’s new IKEA store today. If you’ve never been to one, imagine if Disneyland and Pier One had a love child and 15,000 of your neighbors all showed up at the same time to visit.

It is no overstatement to say the store is ginormous and that tunneling through it amidst the endless surge of people has to be the closest I’ve ever come to feeling like a bull running the streets of Pamplona. With the clean light and pastel colors, it’s ridiculously easy to get lost in all that plastic gloss intermingling with all those human smells.

It took me about 30 seconds to feel the full impact of every joke and side-sneer I’d encountered while playing The Sims a good five or six years ago. If you’ve played the game, you’ll certainly know what I mean. It’s incredibly difficult to get that Sims shopping music out of your head once you make the connection, and that’s of course the point you realize that the joke is totally on you.

Beneath it all, IKEA is secondarily a furniture store and primarily an experiment in both mass psychology and what I’ll call The Bulk Aesthetic. IKEA stores are little more than sexed-up lumber yards with snaking lines of hundreds upon hundreds of human beings cutting through them. After entering the store, you will see incredibly clever and stingy use of floorspace (and the floors are mostly concrete), but you will not see natural light until you spill onto the checkout level, which upon entry feels very much like a killing floor in a meat processing facility. The endless rows of people are only broken by stacks of stale brown boxes, and once queued for checkout, there is simply no turning back.

Ahhh, the sweet scent of consumers consuming. Can’t you smell it already?

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5 responses to “bork bork bork

  • zoot

    I love IKEA. Deeply. With the sort of unrespricated passion that is usually reserved for my dealings with men. When I lived in Denmark my friend Merete and I used to push the girls (my oldest and her oldest) in the barnevognes and walk two miles to IKEA, where we would sit and drink coffee while Anja licked the floor. Anja got into her first fight at IKEA, at nine months old, after which Merete’s father told me “your child is like one of those toys that you wind up and it keeps going and going and going.” On our walks to get there Merete would recite the entire “plots” of that day’s Oprah and Ricky Lake shows. I adored her simple lack of pretention. Later, after we moved to Indiana, Merete and her family moved to Ohio, and we would go visit them. Merete and I would sit in the kitchen drinking coffee and wondering mournfully when we would next visit an IKEA. I moved to Maryland and as I drove around the Beltway I nearly licked the window as I passed the IKEA in College Park, Maryland. I phoned Merete immediately upon arrival, and not many months later her family made the six hour trip to visit us there. We went to IKEA. We drank coffee, ate meatballs (which, by the way, are pronounced as something darn close to “shitbuller” in Swedish). No child licked the floor. The next year Merete was diagnosed with schizophrenia and has become unreachable to me and to many others.

    My children have those green leaves above their beds.

    How could I not love IKEA after all of that?

  • trevor

    Alas, I have only been to this one IKEA, and we weren’t able to construct any pleasant memories from the experience. We did teach the three generations of Gresham Blonde Ladies in front of us how to use the scanner-wand thingy, though, but that wasn’t a very constructive conversation to say the least.

    You are well-founded in your adoration for IKEA and I will give it another shot someday. Like in about a hundred billion years.

  • zoot

    Trevor, Trevor, Trevor.

    First of all, you went on a weekend. Bad, bad, bad. Second (and most crucially), you went for the grand (or the nearly grand) opening. Need I lecture you about this? The time to go to IKEA, my dear friend, is in about five months, when it is no longer a novelty to you Portlandians AND after Christmas, at about nine-thirty in the morning. Sit quietly in the cafe with a cop of coffee (or two) and possibly a peice of Daim Torte (not just for dessert after all). Then, at ten, begin a leisurely stroll through the top floor. Admire their admirable use of space. Wish your house was only 600 square feet so you could be “neat”, too. And I don’t mean tidy, fyi. Eventually wander downstairs, where you discover you can’t live without that purple duvet cover and therefore, the white fluffy duvet to go inside. Think you need a blue plastic garbage can, and one of those wooden art figures with the flexible limbs. Wonder how you lived your whole life without truly appreciating allan keys.

    Next summer, drive to Vancouver, where there are TWO – count them, two – IKEA stores. Come visit Zoot. Bring chocolate (you can pick some up at IKEA on your way), and possibly one of those fine sixty dollar coffee tables with the eight cubies underneath it.

    Thanks.

  • zoot

    a cop of coffee?

    my excuse is that I am in a hotel on quadra island. when one is on quadra island, one can no longer type efficiently. trust me on this. after you have been to IKEA in vancouver and later, Zoot’s house, journey onto tsa-kwa-luten lodge (www.capemudgeresort.com) on quadra and you will understand what I am talking about.

  • Colette

    That reminds me, I need to drive 45 minutes to buy a $1 shower curtain.

    Only $1!

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