IKEA has opened in Dublin. The first branch in the Republic of Ireland. The Irish Times ran several articles, there was a play (“Waiting for IKEA” – I am not joking) and the city is filled with those IKEA poster ads. You know the ones I mean. The nation is beside itself with excitement. It was discussed extensively at a dinner party in our house last Saturday night. I flaunted my superior knowledge of IKEA and its products (the Billy bookcase, the Expedit shelves, the Malm drawers, the inedible meatballs) until my husband glared at me and said “Yes, Anne knows all about Swedish flat packed furniture” and I was suitably quashed. I was also slightly amazed that none of our other guests had been to the establishment which supplied a depressing quantity of our furniture. They were excited and enthusiastic about IKEA and its works. Not quite as excited as the Irish Times on Saturday which observed:
Those who have not before ventured into an Ikea outlet are likely to be gobsmacked by their visit. It’s not just the scale of the store, but the sweep of its ambition. Ikea stores have more in common with attractions such as zoos or large garden centres than shops; they are destinations for a day out, where cheap and cheerful eating and putting the kids in the creche are as important as the shopping.
Still, I understand the enthusiasm from my superior perch. When I moved to Belgium for the second time in 1998, I had to buy furniture. I fell in love with IKEA. So cheap, so handy, so beautiful. As the years went by, I fell out of love, so cheaply made, so challenging to assemble and so exactly like what everyone else has. As my ultimate ambition becomes to get rid of all my IKEA furniture and replace it with slightly more unusual things I can find elsewhere, my contemporaries are desperate to hand over their hard earned cash to the Swedish giant. I am enjoying the feeling of smugness that accompanies me everywhere. I said proudly to my husband the other day, “I will never cross the threshold of IKEA in Dublin.” “Mmm,” he said, “did you say that we needed a big plastic box on wheels to store the boys’ train sets in? I wonder where we would find something like that?” “Trapped like a trap in a trap,” as Dorothy Parker would say.