Saturday, 14 November 2009

Joy through self-assembly

Ever since it took me eight hours to build a bookcase - nails broken, knuckles grazed and back aching - I've been convinced that IKEA is not an entirely good thing.

We now have further indications. We knew that founder Ingvar Kamprad had enjoyed a flirtation with Nazism. Now we're told the business he founded is 'run like a sect, complete with spies, lies and racism'. Or so a former employee alleges in a recent book, noted by the very good English-language Spiegel Online. Hardly credible and not dignified by a response from the enigmatic IKEA.

By the way, when I bought that bookcase I was earning a decent wage. Once I added my hourly rate to the cost of the bookcase, it turned out to be the most expensive piece of furniture I'd bought to date by quite a margin. And it developed a bulbous case of blow-out after some water spillage. And...

Nice blueberry jam and meatballs though. But jam and meatballs do not a pleasant furniture experience make.

10 comments:

malty said...

Gaw, you touch upon a subject now buried deep in the psyche of Western man. This is undoubtedly the twenty first centuries rite of passage, from adolescence to flat-pac-man in two easy allen wrenching steps.
Probably early eighties, a friend who lives in Sheffield said that he had just 'built' a kitchen he had bought from a Swedish company near Warrington. 'Swedish?' 'Warrington?' "its a superstore" he said. "No chance" I thought, well, wrong.
The buggers have built a new one near Koln, their forty fourth in Germany, calling it massive is understating. it's about the size of Luxembourg.
As for the old boy's Nazi leanings, well, he is a Swede.
The best way to assemble flat pack is to take to your bed and have someone else do it.

Peter Burnet said...

Honestly, they are such children in that country. A young basement Nazi in Sweden after the war? Strategizing to get the lowest prices from suppliers? Pumping up the old man's image? Not exactly Enron.

Gaw said...

Malty and Peter: IKEA's formula is to cleverly outsource the manufacturing part of the process to the customer, which keeps prices low and makes distribution easier. But what I find remarkable - and it's really where the creepiness comes in - is how IKEA makes out that this permits customers to demonstrate their virtue. They really have injected all sorts of strange ideas into the mundane practice of buying homewares. It really is Joy through Self-Assembly, a sort of harmless and charmless Swedish sublimation.

Gadjo Dilo said...

I'd heard about the IKEA founder's regrettable Nazi inclinations, and once had a Swedish girlfriend who swore by IKEA meatballs like it was some sort of religion - it all makes sense now. That's what I love about we British: imagine the derision if B&Q tried to sell Oswald Mosly meat pies - no, neither can I.

malty said...

Can you imagine the Ikea idea (Ikidea?) catching on. "Mornin' mate, got your Passat here". "Where?", "there, in the crate"

Sean said...

Bosch IXO 4 Cordless Lithium-Ion Screwdriver is what you need for xmas.

My cousin is a master cabinet maker and makes us nice kitchens hand built in maple..along with most other things in the house,he is definitively not a Nazi, but he is seriously expensive.

Gaw said...

Gadj: I like to think it would be a 'Churchill short-crust steak and kidney'.

Malty: I for one would have to take up cycling - if I could get the bike together.

Sean: I love a bit of maple. Big fan of solid wood furniture and fittings whenever possible. You're lucky to have someone on hand to do that sort of thing for you, even if it does cost a few bob.

Peter Burnet said...

It really is Joy through Self-Assembly, a sort of harmless and charmless Swedish sublimation.

Lord save us from joyful Swedes. But I think you are right. I'm imagining their instruction manual for couples assembling bookcases together.

Step 1--Remove all clothing

Step 2--Follow steps 2-53 below. You will need a Philips screwdriver

Step 54--Put clothing back on.

Gaw said...

Isn't that the set-up of quite a good part of the Swedish film industry?

By the way, Peter, have you felt your newfound fame yet? It's not often commenters get links. You should really have your own blog (I don't pretend to understand that strangeness about Enoch Root).

Gaw said...

Sorry here's the link:

http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/11/an-ear-of-lead.html