As an investor, founder, CEO and business book author, I write about startups, design, how to build a good business, and I like to muse about culture in any form.

First visit to IKEA

 “Mom, I need a modern room.”  I first heard those words about nine years ago when our oldest son was inhabiting the former baby nursery (think periwinkle paint and sweet images of childhood on the walls).  At first he was satisfied to just get his own digs when his youngest brother vacated the place.  But one day he took a look around and realized he was pretty embarrassed by his surroundings.   Just a few weeks ago, I heard those self-same words “Mom, I need a modern room” from the younger brother who had vacated the nursery.  (Do these kids collude?) He had been occupying a room full of childish odds and ends, took a look around, and made a plea for a bedroom makeover.

I can’t believe it has taken so long, but this is what it took to get me over to IKEA.  Living in Ireland we would see our friends take the car ferry over to the UK , drive to IKEA, load up the vehicle (often a rented truck), and come back with big huge smiles on their faces.  But being renters of  a furnished Dublin house, we just couldn’t justify the trip, even if it was a big part of the Irish consumer zeitgeist.  Back here in Boston, we still didn’t imagine a need to join in the storied lines of IKEA-bound traffic for the random purchase or two.   Until this medium-scale room renovation project arose.

 Cut to the chase…a full day shopping excursion (capped out at $500), followed by second full day of furniture assembly (three lamps, a nightstand, a couch-of sorts, a desk, a chair, a drawer storage unit, all of which did wonders to jazz up a few existing pieces of furniture).  Very satisfying.   It’s not stuff I would buy to last the duration (my normal MO–I don’t like the notion of disposable, in general), but the load we scooped is all of reasonable quality for the job at hand.  And I can imagine its future life in a first apartment.

But more satisfying than our own shopping was seeing the amazing range of people in the place.  All presumably grooving on the clean European design vibe, as well as the Swedish meatballs.  I bumped into a friend who said, “You know, I looked around the cafe and noticed that no one looked alike.  You just couldn’t peg the shoppers as any particular type.”  My sentiments exactly.   It’s really fun to see the notion of contemporary design increasingly and continually penetrate the American sensibility.  It’s been a long, slow journey (for me as a designer, anyway) but progress is evident.  It’s not that I hope for Scandinavian spare-ness to overtake every American living room.  It’s simply nice to have that choice, at not just at the designer showcase high end.

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