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Monday, April 17, 2006

Superfin Kvalitet Fur Alla!

In preparation for the upcoming home decorating shoot, I decided the kitchen needed some new rugs, as the cheap coverings I started out with are beginning to unravel after numerous washings. Besides, I wanted something spiffier to show for the cameras. So, I've been shopping around for suitable replacements for about a month or so, but given the specific design elements I'm dealing with, I wasn't happy with any of the offerings I'd encountered to-date.

And then of course, I discovered Ikea.

Now, I understand, most human beings are already familiar - perhaps to the point of saturation - with the Wal*Mart of middle-brow interior decoration, but not moi. I think I may own a couple of items that originally came from Ikea, but I've never purchased anything there myself, and in fact, until yesterday, had never even been inside one of their airplane assembly building sized warehouse stores.

Not to bore you with the gruesome details, since presumably for many of you this is old hat, but - man-oh-man, if there's a way to cram any more as-mediocre-as-it-is-affordable crap into a single location, I'd like to know how. I suppose I can understand its appeal to a typical North American suburban bourgeoisie, since by all appearances it's designed to actively discourage making choices based on any kind of actual aesthetic considerations (just find the mock-upped showroom that fits your perceived level of blandized, color-coordinated non-expression and order every item in it), but the sheer volume of choices speaks to a level of excess - ironically (or perhaps paradoxically) couched in the "practicality is the byword" paradigm of contemporary Scandinavian design - that for me at least, quickly became mind-numbing. I mean, how practical is it really to be confronted by 26 different plastic rolling desk chairs, each completely identical in design and construction, except for their color?

And then there's the whole "Disney theme ride" layout of the store itself. All I really wanted to look at were rugs - and yet, I was forced to wander through a maze of labyrinthian proportions (replete with frequent "you are here" signs to chart your progress), presumably to give full expression to the latent impulse buying that no doubt accounts for a significant portion of their business. Sure, I was briefly tempted by the plastic room dividers, the endless array of kitchen gadgets, even the aforementioned chairs, but they were distractions from my main goal, which naturally was one of the very last departments at the end of the long, winding road of consumer choice.

Despite the obvious obsticles, I was generally undeterred from my mission, and eventually (after a much-needed stop at the cafeteria conveniently located at the heart of the maze, apparently intended to fortify already overloaded shoppers for the second half of their spending binge) I achieved my goal, managing to locate a suitable area rug, and several variously colored small round accent rugs, despite barely avoiding numerous close call collisions with the legions of tiny tots wandering the aisles, complete with appropriately-scaled mini shopping carts (evidentally it's never too early to instill in Today's Youth the compulsion to load themselves to overbrimming, just like that poor little VW bug in all their ads) who carreened around the store like errant pinballs in search of "bunny stations" where perky Ikea employees were handing out free Easter candy, or the hapless "backwards drivers", who had suddenly remembered they needed something from Lamps & Lighting Fixtures, and who were fighting desperately to negotiate back downstream from Bathroom Furnishings, against both the directional arrows and the spawning salmon-like upstream progression of their fellow shoppers.

Still, I got some nice, albeit dirt-cheap floor coverings, and managed to keep the ancilliary spending down to what I imagine was, for the typical Ikea customer at least, an extraordinary show of self-discipline. In any case, I did add a sheepskin pelt that goes nicely on the back of my recliner (intended to keep the cats from clawing the top of the chair back into bootlaces), and a medium sized stainless steel mixing bowl that will now serve as a counter top fruit receptacle.

And with luck, I'll never have to set foot in the place again - unless someone I know decides to remount their series of tiny domestic dramas.

But, I won't buy anything. I swear. Really.

Posted byCOMTE on 1:43 PM

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