Monday, October 17, 2011


An article this month in THE NEW YORKER confirms the fascination people feel for IKEA - what other company lowers prices when possible? They could pocket the profit instead of passing it on to you. And the prices are already low to begin with. But no, IKEA wants YOU to benefit from the saving they have made. It is a clever marketing device drawing attention to the lowered price, thus binding the IKEA-smitten customer ever closer. 

What I like about IKEA is that they do not pretend that their products are all made in Sweden. Instead they always, very honestly show in what country the product is made: China, Vietnam, india,Thailand, Poland and Turkey these are countries you see very often these days. Very few products are made in Sweden, some plastic coat hangers and napkins, that is all I have seen recently. I have some cups and saucers from 1981 that say "Made in Sweden". Those were the days. No more. Too expensive.

When you buy a stainless colander at IKEA one cannot help being impressed at the logistics of it all. Fifty years ago, simply put, every country had their own manufacturers making colanders for their own market. Now IKEA has one factory making uniform colanders (at the lowest price possible) for the entire world. If you don't think that impressive, what is? Machine production makes it possible for IKEA to mass produce colanders for everyone in the world, but there was once a product produced by IKEA many years ago that was not machine made. 
IKEA once sold hand painted Swedish Folk Art figures.The label said "Made in Sri Lanka", no doubt the cheapest place to have them produced. The Sri Lankan artists must have had some samples to copy.  And they did a very good job too. The figures in Swedish folk costumes looked lovely and vibrant with all the details perfectly copied. They varied somewhat from artist to artist, but they looked perfectly Swedish. With one exception -- it was not intended, only a natural instinct and nothing they reflected on: the noses. They looked much more Sri Lankan than Swedish and that is a wonderful, unintended message from these artists who probably would have preferred to express themselves creatively in some other way, but had to mass copy these figures for probably a very low but nevertheless welcome wage. 

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