I’ve had something of a fascination with Ikea’s furniture ever since my teenage years when my friend Konrad moved to his new place in St Kilda and showed me the bedroom desk he’d got. It was a huge pine modular setup, full of useful drawers and shelves for his various gadgets and papers.
Somewhere I got hold of an Ikea catalogue and started plotting out my own modular Ikea bedroom desk layout, but it never actually happened. In fact it wasn’t until years later that I actually got to step inside one of these wondrous Swedish furniture stores, probably at Moorabbin when I was living with my mum in nearby Hampton.
By the early-90s I was living in Hawthorn, and there were a few trips on the train to the Nunawading Ikea, often coming back with flat-packed chairs in boxes on a luggage trolley we had. Some of those chairs are still going strong, in my kitchen, though if I can find the right Allen key, they do need a little tightening.
Alas, the suburban Ikea stores have closed. Given I’ve spent most of my time living in the southeast, Moorabbin was particularly handy, and most of our family
woe rue the day that it finally shut up shop. No more nipping up the road for a quick Billy and a $5 pack of a hundred tealights — now it necessitates a trip to Richmond (which I’ll blog about another day).
(Ikea are building a store at Springvale, expected to open next year.)
Ikea, being the worldwide collosus that it is, comes in for some flak, of course. Some people like to paint it as McFurniture, though I’m inclined to think that it’s not quite that bad… though there could be a link. It could well be recycled flat-pack cardboard that goes into McNuggets — that would explain a lot.
I still like the idea of modular furniture. I like that with the established lines, you always know what you’re getting — which is quite McDonald’s-like, I suppose. So I can measure up a space, and work out how many Billy bookshelves I need to buy, knowing that they look okay, they’re reasonable quality, and that if I want another to match, or I want some extra shelves or whatever at some stage in the future, I’ll still be able to get them.
But yes, there are niggling doubts. Is it plantation timber? Perhaps not. Is it slave labour? One thing’s for sure — it seems like none of it is manufactured locally. Just about every item has come a long way to be here.