September 16, 2008

Living with or without IKEA

When we moved to Bangkok (Thailand) with 2 suitcases only, I had to setup a household. Bangkok has never seen an IKEA shop. And I had the problem to find my kitchenware, dishes and bed linen around a town with never ending traffic jams. How I envied the colleagues that have moved to Singapore where they had a one stop shopping weekend at IKEA and they have been setup with their household.

When I moved to Beijing (China), I moved into a fully furnished house (mainly furnished with IKEA items). However I appreciated to have IKEA around. It was a 15 minutes drive to the biggest and newest IKEA in Asia. Sometimes you need a chocolate powder shaker or a nice new bathroom floor mat or just lingonberry sauce.

Now I live in Stuttgart (Germany). And today, I decided to go to IKEA to buy some storage containers for toys and clothes. This requires to drive on the German Autobahn... about 30 minutes. Somehow I am not used to drive fast anymore. Everything over 120 km/h makes me brake out in sweat. Mercedes, Porsches, Audis are over passing like rockets ... finally I reached IKEA and I was surprised that it is packed on a Monday morning. Maybe I did not get the special breakfast voucher buy one get three.

I did not find what I wanted - the toys container, yes - but IKEA has no air-tight containers for clothes and I did not remember the name of a clothes-rail I used to buy (Ryäkösnix...? nor its product number) as the lady at the information counter requested.

I wondered about some rattan products made in Vietnam that used to be cute tourist souvenirs from a South-East Asia holiday and now, going global, are to be found at IKEA for 50 cents.

After having filled out my application for a Family Card (with no significant advantages), I bought some lingonberry sauce and went home. Maybe my next IKEA trip (if there is one) will be more fun.

But, I could use an IKEA to complete my palazzo household (one day in the future). My new neighbours, in Pizzo (Italy), bought some stuff at IKEA. And when I asked them where they went (I actually hoped, they will tell me that a new IKEA has opened not far away), they said, they went to Bari... from Pizzo, this is a 3 hours drive, one way ...
'Oh', was my answer.
No more complaints.

There are 15 IKEA outlets in Italy. Mainly in the North. Spain (mainland) has less. France has some more. Germany has 3 times more IKEA shops than Italy and 2 times more than Sweden. Interesting.

I think IKEA is still new in Italy and not that popular as it is in Germany. Italians have a lot of well-designed and affordable furniture and like the classic style. Even young people usually decorate their homes with antiques, combined with some modern classics. And nowadays added with some Scandinavian clean chic items by IKEA.

PS: In China, I saw once a room decorated with stuff from IKEA, mainly in white, in an Art Gallery. It was an installation. It could have been anybodies room anywhere in the world. Globalisation. Uniformation. Levelling.

PPS: Where is your next IKEA? What was your last IKEA buy and experience?


  1. I can so identify! When I moved to Cardiff (with 2 suitcases), I used to go to the Ikea when I got homesick! There was one close by in Baltimore and the Cardiff one was just the same. It helped a lot!

  2. My first reaction is, why in the world would you want to shop at Ikea when you live in Italy? But then I thought, well, sometimes you just need something ordinary, reasonably priced, easy to get. I have several Ikea pieces of furniture that have proven to be durable and all right looking. But if I were more into furniture, I would get something else. As it is, I'd rather spend my money vacationing in Italy than on furniture. :)

  3. Welcome Pigtown-design,
    you are right, living abraod makes a trip to IKEA to a trip back home. European flair.

    Welcome Studiolo2,
    even for Italians, who have weekly markets and nice and affordable furniture, IKEA is interesting if you need eg. some simple bookshelves or kids room decoration. And some IKEA's kitchenware has the same modern and appealing design as Alessi products, but at a fraction of Alessi's prices.
    Young Italian families don't have much money to spend. And in the South it is even worse because of the job situation. Probably that is why it does not make sense for IKEA to open up an outlet further south than Bari and Neaples.