As an American who never had the privilege of living near an IKEA, I never really got IKEA. Now living in Denmark, I'm not even sure I would have totally gotten IKEA even if I had. Growing up and well into my adulthood, I only knew of IKEA as a place that had cheap stuff. I think a lot of Americans have that idea about the store and they're not wrong per se but they're really missing out on so much more.
|A fateful trip to Scandinavia's second largest IKEA|
I didn't fully appreciate the devotion to form and function that IKEA takes until I visited for the first time. Walking through our now local store, I came across "concept apartments" - fully decked out, functionally operational, liveable spaces. But here's the IKEA catch. These demo dwellings are roughly 270 sq ft for a single person, 375 sq ft for a couple and a palatial 590 sq ft that's set up for a family with a young child. And yes, this is including a bathroom and kitchen! To most Americans, this would be viewed as either a funny joke or some granola-crunchy grad student's master's thesis.
Could you live like this?And why not laugh away? America lives large. We're not used to thinking about form and functionality in our daily lives. We have so much excess square footage to fill that we don't care if it saves space as long as it saves money. When we do have the luxury of thinking thoughtfully about design and sustainability, it's often in these odd American paradoxes like the Boulder, Colorado, question of how to get a 9,400 square foot mansion to have as small an ecological footprint as possible.
But here in Copenhagen, these are not just hypothetical questions or philisophical debates. It's reality. Whole families live in apartments and houses the size of the average American garage. Owning less stuff isn't a campaign or New Year's resolution, it's a practical solution when having to face sleeping on your balcony because you have too much stuff in your two-room apartment.
|Prepared for overwhelmed Americans with a room to lay down|