Friday, November 2, 2007

Damn you, Ikea!

Damn you, Ikea, and your hip design and high-fashion colors, your yellow four-poster bed out of a mid-century fairy tale and your red lacquer wall units. Damn you, and your rococo prints that are SO HOT RIGHT NOW and your flokati rugs priced well below standard and your cute little lamps that look like gnome hats (in, like, 12 colors) and your super cheap floor mirrors (pay $500 more at Pottery Barn) and the awesome armoires with the sliding doors that take up so much less space and would be perfect in my teeny bedroom . . .

How will I ever kick my “Made in China” habit with your low-priced, high-design options? Okay, so some of it isn’t all that well made and, yes, my dresser broke two months after I bought it (particle board after all). But, it’s so hard to wean myself off. Did I mention the trio of little stuffed rats that were sold in the kid’s department? Rats! Ikea is selling toy rats! If that isn’t absolutely brilliant . . .

And the sample rooms. Such great use of limited space, unique furniture arrangements, modern, bold use of color, storage solutions that would make Martha Stewart proud . . . it makes me want it all.

But the quality does make a difference. So much of what Ikea sells falls into the “disposable design” category: on the popular design radar for a year or two and manufactured to only last that long. You don’t have to settle for the same furniture every year! Just throw it out and start over – you can afford it! (And most of it is probably broken by now, anyway). Don't worry about the landfill or the resources wasted. Just have fun!

Granted, my lovely, Crayola crayon green sofabed from Ikea has held up pretty well over the last six years of book parties, overnight guests, naps, make-out sessions . . . but so many things have fallen apart just from regular use. Why has longevity dropped off the check-list of good design? Is it because stores like Ikea and Target are pouring money into top-shelf design teams that are forced to trade off craftsmanship and materials for shallow looks in order to keep prices low?

Sigh. Going to Ikea just isn’t fun anymore. (Okay, it sort of still is. Just a little.)

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