Thursday, August 25, 2011

On my doorstep this morning lay what is arguably the most influential publication concerning domestic space you will read this year: the 2012 IKEA catalogue.

This year's cover is not an idealized kitchen or family room but a neatly arranged cluster of mostly white items -- including a bed, plastic chairs and plates -- all of it set against an impossibly seamless and lightly stained Grade A plywood wall. At the centre of the image is the pitch (arranged vertically, of course):


On Page 4 is an editorial that begins: "What if you could do more with the space you have -- use it in a smarter way, make it more personal?" Opposite that, on Page 5, a representation of IKEA's most recent example of "imagined" living: "what would happen if six friends decided to live together in 430 square feet"? Also on that page, a link to what IKEA calls "democracy in action," which includes a tour by Ray, an IKEA designer, through this bathroomless abode (see video at bottom).

As impressed as I was by Ray's tour, I was hoping that IKEA might have taken it further and asked "six friends" to live this way for six weeks, preferably during a Swedish winter, and that their comments be made available to us. Or perhaps they did and, like most democratic states, chose to protect us from the results. Either way, I would love to see this experiment enacted and shared. That would be the "smart" thing to do.

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