Chapter 1 - It's a magazine now.
Yes. There is definitely a change to the IKEA catalogue - it feels more like a magazine now - a way for IKEA to reach out to its customers, and potential customers, and among many others things [almost secondary to selling] familiarize them with IKEA's ideas for improving living - it's about problem solving, in style. A smart way of doing it is by hiring top international talent in sustainable product design - IKEA wins prestigous design awards - an urban, all aluminum bicycle! for example.
And paper furniture? [because there is 'feature' in the catalogue on IKEA pioneering paper furniture. That's right, furniture made of paper!]. It's going to be awhile before people accept such novel concepts. There is enough talk and innuendos about IKEA furniture being of poor quality - mostly made of particlecore**** sheets wrapped in foil - for the public to jump on the 'paper furniture' bandwagon and love it. I think it mostly boils down to understanding sustainability, the concept of 'design' and how IKEA is pioneering new technologies. Paper is essentially just wood fibers, properly oriented and glued together with the right adhesives. And I am always open to exploring new ideas and concepts.
But try to convince my old Polish grandmother, who loved knocking hard on her credenza, the solid wood piece resonating and her nodding her head in approval. 'That's furniture,' she would say, 'they don't make it like that anymore.' Well they do. IKEA features many solid wood pieces - I've seen some nice solid white oak harvest tables, like MOCKELBY for $799 here in Canada, I just got to check where it is manufactured*****.
Yea. I wrote a really dry an analytical post about the new catalogue, and it is long and analytical. It's full of marks like these, and there is a corresponding note analyzing each statement and what it means in the larger scope [yea! they got one about quality! you got to read it; they talk about luxury vehicles and how they compare to SUVs! Strange I thought; Is IKEA attempting to cast it's products as luxury vehicles or SUVs? A car analogy?
Actually, there is a precedent to do so. An Italian friend of mine, whom I was doing some work for, was commenting on my millwork and telling me that I don't make Ferraris - luxury, quality, etc. - that I am more in a league of a Fiat - like the 126p; you know, get you around. I thought about that for a second, and then I answered, 'No, I think of my work as a Tesla' - I am about innovation - good problem solving, ready-made technology just up for grabs, smart styling and design. And last time I heard, Tesla is still less than a Ferrari - Elon Musk inspires me, hate Bezos though.
And you know, I think the laminate doors that I make - Abet Laminati, stunning selection of finishes that you cannot imagine could exist, until you see them - slap something like that onto your kitchen - there, your fine Italian connection right there. And it was John who convinced me to leave my friends with 'Ciao!'. He said 'Karol, you are not Italian, but it fits you.' I end all my YouTube videos with 'Ciao!'.
[picture shows a table with a computer laptop, a coffee and a marked up IKEA 40th anniversary catalogue]
It's fun - but it is no-where ready, and I can't wait to write about it any longer.
So here is a substitute for now! A temporary review! In-lieu of the long, more in-depth, academic one!
The one thing you have to try is the salmon burger - it's delicious. No IKEA, salmon is not the new pork - but salmon farming is likely far more sustainable than pork production. Have you ever experienced taste that suddenly brings back old memories of something? Taste can be a powerful trigger. Well, I had one! I remember eating a similar 'pulled fish' when I was very young - I lived not too far away from the Baltic Sea, there was always fresh fish - Poland is a large supplier to IKEA. Some sofas are made in Poland; the entire LACK - you know, the 'cardboard sandwich' - collection is sourced in Poland.
NEW Door for SEKTION!
Finally IKEA catches on that people want doors other than high gloss white - Ringhult, which is now cheaper than last year. They named it KALLARP - I don't know who the hell comes up with these names, but who cares! These door are made differently than Ringhult**. They are more like the doors I make, square edge - resulting in a much crisper shadow line. I got a KALLARP door in the shop waiting for me to cut into it an see how they make it and how durable it is. Stay tuned a review is coming for the KALLARP doors!
[picture shows IKEA kitchen island, with a clever designed void, equipped with lights and covered with a stone countertop, all covered with IKEA's new KALLARP doors and panels]
Curiosity though - the choice of colour. First look this room in the IKEA Etobicoke, Toronto, Canada, showroom - the lighting is a little different - but -
[picture shows an IKEA showroom accent wall, decorated with simple panelling, and hanging plates; the colour is almost an exact match to the IKEA's new KALLARP doors]
Similar colour, eh? Is this the new 'It colour'? Is IKEA committing to produce these doors until the death of SEKTION? And then there are these accent doors-
[picture shows IKEA's KALVIA, new graphic accent doors for their SEKTION kitchen boxes]
A very graphic, accent doors for SEKTION, nice....They appear random, but if you look closely at the image there are 2 distinct patterns - outside doors are one, and the pair 'inside' is another. Hey.....hold on? Is there a market for some funky doors that you can easily slap on SEKTION box? Semihandmade, has been doing this for awhile - funky doors for SEKTION box. And of course I make some nice doors too - I am contemplating transitioning to a 'web-site' model - with like galleries and images and inspiration - but I just find it a little static - blogs are quick and easy to update, they are more personal - easier to express an opinion, do a write-up analysis, etc. Blogging, I find is the right medium for me.****** That and YouTube! I love making videos - but I find that even though I record tons of video, I am very selective in what I put out there for the world - I am my own worst critic.
IKEA, please....please...just stop torturing this machine.
[this picture shows my daughter next to a furniture testing machine at IKEA Etobicoke store, applying stress that mimics the use of the POANG chair by average human being. Look at that wooden butt pressing hard on that chair! Beckie would go crazy!]
People. Let me be clear - wood is by far the best material that resists stress tests like these! Any metal, or composite [known to me, I don't know, we could be developing some super-space age materials there] would have failed! I once considered building a sailboat [silly young man!] and was reading insatiably about it, and I read a study where they stress tested masts on sailboats - wood, aluminum, composite, and I think there was even steel there. Now you know that boats rock side to side a 'million times over' and that flexes [aka. stresses] the mast in all directions. And after like a 100 000 cycles of flexing they analyzed the masts - all except wood showed signs of micro-fractures, which would eventually lead to failure! So I say just stop torturing this poor machine! I hear it creaking ['crying' my youngest says, when I explained to him this awkward situation], shedding aluminum shavings, pistons are barely working.....JUST STOP IT!
Wood! You win!
Check out this pic...... -
[picture shows IKEA cabinet that is filled with Swedish language books]
I purchase virtually all the books that IKEA publishes - it's a way for IKEA to tell their story in an organized and controlled matter. But what I want to know, is who supplies all the Swedish books to IKEA stores?! It's all Swedish! I looked through them - fiction, non-fiction, travel, academic, fine literature, teen fiction? Who is behind this?! C'mon! I want to know!
AND for the final betrayal by IKEA!
IKEA is attempting to re-write history, yet again! Or.....maybe the story was not true to begin with.....? Maybe it was IKEA marketing department that came up with it....? Where does the truth lie? What am I talking about?
I call it - 'the myth of the flat-pack'!
This is undocumented, but I read this urban myth before, that it was Ingvar Kamprad, the Great Founder himself that came up with the concept of flat-packing to save money. The story goes like this -
'It was a dark and stormy night. The Baltic Sea was angry my friends. Waves crashed upon the Swedish shore with great thunder and fury. On that particular night, young and inexperienced Ingvar, from here on referred to as the Great Founder, was attempting to save money yet again. In his entrepreneurial, cost-savvy ways he struggled hard to make a delivery of a table to an eagerly waiting customer. Whether it was the inclement weather - we now know that moisture is an enemy of furniture - or the Great Founder's lack of good straps, it was simply not possible to secure the table to the roof of the car. A feeling of sadness descended on the Great Founder....is he going to have to pay a proper delivery service charge? 'Oh Freyja*******,' he shouted raising his fist against the dark, moist sky 'why must you be so cruel!'. But the Great Founder knew better than to be at a fickle of a Norse goddess, and he had to seek his own mortal solution. He wiped the beading water off his glasses, pulled back the hood of his waterproof, made-in-Sweden parka and took a long hard look at the piece of furniture in front of him. 'Think Ingvar.....think hard....'. And then it happened. Noone really knows what, or how, or why....but Ingvar, the Great Founder, took the legs off that table and managed to fit the table top and the legs inside the car, flat. And the rest, as they say, is history....
Today untold number of children expect their beds to come in a large, flat brown box, to be assembled by their handy moms or dads with a strange L-shaped metal tool. Adults in America eagerly stuff their compact SUVs with brown flat boxes full of little and medium size panel, that in turn, they will use to assemble most functional kitchen island cabinetry, after plenty of reading on 'how to install Ikea kitchen island' on a page of blogger named Karol Kosnik. And finally seniors will eat the $1 breakfast on a slow, lazy, summer weekday knowing that they can browse the IKEA showroom, and excluding the largest items, they can easily purchase a piece such as a lounge chair, a better reading lamp, or maybe even a silly play kitchen for their grand-kids and still take it home the same day.
But IKEA, after years.....years... of perpetuating this myth suddenly does a 180degree turn and posts this.....c'mon! Don't ruin the dream!
**Ringhult is like a wrapped sausage, to use the German analogy, then cut to size and the cut edge has edging applied to it, trimmed and buffed.
***someone told me once that they did not like the laminate doors because 'they had sharp corners' - that is because they were not filed - laminate doors required quite a bit of filing on the edge - the edge should feel soft and rounded; added bonus is that the doors are less likely to chip. I make nice laminate doors.
****want to learn about 'particlecore'? you should read my SEKTION - their kitchens - ultimate review, where I talk about how things are made at IKEA. Good or bad? I will let you make a an informed decision.
*****Yea, personal opinion, but it kind-a pisses me off, for example, when manufacturers take Canadian timbers, ship them to China, mill them there and send the finished product back here.
****** I once had person call me and tell me that they read my blog, and they loved it, but before they hire me for the install they want to see more pictures. And I was like, 'You want to see pictures of IKEA kitchens? Use Google - they all look the same! There is not much variety there - Ringhult kitchens, Bodbyn kitchens, Tinsgryd kitchens. All look the same - not everyone hires me for some fancy-schmancy work. Sometimes people just want a straight up quality install with no compromises, good honest craftsman advice, and not care too much about the design!
******* 'Freyja' is the Norse goddess of love, war and gold. Because isn't running your own business a 'labour of love', but it is also a constant 'war with your competition', and you end up reaping the rewards of #gold?
******** Silliest! I am a writer. And I love writing fiction. Can you imagine, dear reader, that I have written IKEA fiction?!
It's a story of a young, ambitious designer that tries to penetrate a furniture making cartel [aka. IKEA]. He accidentally uncovers a great conspiracy - a powerful furniture conglomerate that manipulates and controls the world's design market. He is helped by a young, eager, female graduate of School of Journalism who is onto her first big break into investigative journalism.
They have to attend a party for 'Allan Garb' [an acronym.....], a furniture tycoon, who they discover is a fictitious creation of 2 individuals - a ruthless American businessman and a very flamboyant European homosexual designer, who lives in a house called the S.U.N. OMG!
With a little bit of help from his friends - a private financial investigator and a Big Data nerd/ real-estate writer - he pieces together a tale of intrigue, mystery and municipal politics.
Party is a modern update of this - the original Here it's in the style of this.
'It was almost morning, and the sun began to rise over the bay. Both barefoot - it's easy to lose your fancy shoes at a fancy party - they made their way down the winding, narrow street flanked by multi-millionaire mansions. The city was just waking up to another, run-of-the-mill Monday. They slowly walked, holding hands, enamoured with each other, looking into windows of the homes around them, and seeing them furnished with products from ****.
Children were just waking up in their reasonably priced, but safe Ukrainian made cribs and cried for attention. Young lovers lifted their still heavy with sleep eyelids, and stared at one another with pleasure; he whsipered 'yea, I'm in it for the long haul, I really liked assembling this bed with you last night' and she smiles and they kiss gently. The elderly were in no rush to wake-up at all - yea their Chinese-sourced latex foam mattresses were comfortable and the store opened at 9:30 for the $1 breakfast, no rush...' Yep, this was the reality. Everyone owned pieces from ****, everyone. It wasn't their fault either that they all fell for it. Yea? in 3 years...who knew, who could have predicted? 3 years to save the world? Nah...they had plenty of time.
The upside was that they owned well designed, reasonably priced, often made over-seas pieces of furniture.