Friday, August 24, 2007

Internationalization through.... furniture

My apartment smells of SOLSTA.

So yesterday I went to pick up a couch at the mother of all furniture stores, Ikea. This store is absolute genius, and there's no way you can just call it a furniture store - it's so much more than that! I feel old saying this place is cool, but whatever. I'm a simple guy that's easily amused, so this should come as no surprise to those of you that know me.

Now I don't know if American Ikea is exactly like Japanese Ikea, but this place had the standard furniture/home supplies store, a Swedish restaurant, a cafe, a daycare center, and play areas for kids strewn randomly about the store. It was like this guy, in his all-encompassing infinite wisdom thought it'd be a great idea to introduce the world to Swedish culture by way of furniture. Of course they have goofy-ass names for everything, but the restaurant is nothing but Swedish food (not just meatballs!!), and at least at the Japanese one I went to there were loooots of Swedes working there too! I was amazed to see all these Scandinavian tall blondes putzing around the store answering questions to the standard plebian populace. I didn't even know there were that many Swedes in all of Japan! It was really pretty much required that you be either Swedish or female to work there from the looks of things... I saw like maybe one or two Japanese guys, but maybe they were just gay or something. Oh wait, but then there was this one black guy working at the restaurant (definitely not female, and I don't think he was Swedish) who was simply overflowing with emphatic exuberance over his position as... the guy that picks up your tray? Anyway, he seemed really happy to be there and came over to let us know that in a somehow pleasantly freakish way. Maybe Ikea's a great place to work, or maybe he's just in the country on a spousal visa and his wife is extremely hot.

So yeah, intro to Sweden 101 and internationalization, in furniture form. Oh, and of course they had signs out front and stuff with Swedish sayings and phonetic guides and stuff to go along with their utterly bizarre product nomenclature. Like SOLSTA. We seriously spent a good 2 hours or so in this place when all was said and done I think. The kicker for me though was actually when I got home and opened my new purchase. What language do you think they wrote the instructions in? English and Japanese, maybe Swedish? Chinese in there too? No!!! There was not one single, solitary word on the whole damn thing, just a bunch of pictures and goofy naked cartoons (don't worry, not anatomically correct) acting out both assembly and use of the couch.

Wow, who would've thought that buying a couch could take all night. Bravo Ikea guy, whoever you are. Bravo, SOLSTA.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yep, IKEA is setup pretty much the same here in the states, although I don't recall there being that many actual Swedes present. Of course it has been a number of years since I went to the IKEA down at Potomac Mills for some furniture. Somehow I doubt there have been any major changes.