Of all the characters on 30 Rock, I’m probably most like Kenneth Parcell (“There are only two things I love in this world: everybody, and television.” — me too, Kenneth!). But when it comes to IKEA, I’m Liz Lemon all the way. In this year’s Valentine’s Day special of 30 Rock, Liz decides to head to IKEA to buy a table, and asks her boyfriend James Marsden if he’s ever been to an IKEA before they enter the store. Pan to an elderly couple angrily leaving the store, and the old man yelling, “I wish I had died at Iwo Jima!”
This is also how I feel about IKEA. When an IKEA opened up in Brooklyn four years ago, everyone was like, “OMG, IKEA!” We wanted an IKEA in the city because we didn’t want to trek to New Jersey or Long Island anymore for our affordable BLERG bookshelves, or whatever they’re called, and we no longer rescued furniture from the streets of New York City because of the possibility of stowaway bed bugs. But I have not stepped one foot into that IKEA since it opened its Swedish doors, because, as we all know, shopping at IKEA is like running around in a stressful maze, and, no thank you!
So when I read in the The Globe and Mail that IKEA is planning on building and operating an entire urban neighborhood in East London, I imagined what it would be like to live in an IKEA, and then I had to shake myself because I had slipped into a day nightmare (daymare?).
But, there will be no BLERG couches, or meatballs in these IKEA neighborhoods. Actually, IKEA insists that there won’t be an IKEA store anywhere near these neighborhoods. Also, none of the 1,200 homes and apartments that the company plans to build are for sale, which means, people aren’t investing in this neighborhood, they’re just renting from a mega-landlord. The neighborhoods will also be mostly car-free because they want people to walk and use public transportation, which, fine, most of us do that in New York anyway. IKEA swears the homes and office buildings will be of “high design and good quality” — you know, unlike their flimsy furniture which everyone just throws away after they break (you won’t ever find any refurbished IKEA furniture at your local antiques store. An Atlantic story deemed IKEA “the least sustainable retailer on the planet”).
IKEA wants to pepper their neighborhoods with farmer’s markets, and drop off events calendars at everyone’s doors to create a sense of community. But a spokesperson also says this: “We would have a fairly firm line on undesirable activity, whatever that may be.”
What does that even mean? I don’t want to know what that means. I just know I want to live in a place with character and history, and, sorry, but IKEA ain’t that.