Unpacking IKEA : Swedish design for the purchasing masses


    • Garvey, Pauline


Unpacking IKEA : Swedish design for the purchasing masses

Pauline Garvey

(Culture, economy and the social)

Routledge, 2018

  • : pbk

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Includes bibliographical references and index



This book represents the first anthropological ethnography of Ikea consumption and goes to the heart of understanding the unique and at times frantic popularity of this one iconic transnational store. Based on a year of participant observation in Stockholm's Kungens Kurva store - the largest in the world - this book places the retailer squarely within the realm of the home-building efforts of individuals in Stockholm and to a lesser degree in Dublin. Ikea, the world's largest retailer and one of its most interesting, is the focus of intense popular fascination internationally, yet is rarely subject to in-depth anthropological inquiry. In Unpacking Ikea, Garvey explores why Ikea is never 'just a store' for its customers, and questions why it is described in terms of a cultural package, as everyday and classless. Using in-depth interviews with householders over several years, this ethnographic study follows the furniture from the Ikea store outwards to probe what people actually take home with them.


1. Unpacking Ikea, 2. Benign Intervention: Ikea Showrooms as Tableaux-Vivant, 3. Home Staging, Housing Theatre: Design, Domesticity and the People's Home, 4. Standardisation, Democracy and Equality: design for the Many People, 5. Storage Solutions, Clutter and Containment, 6. Still Life? Circulation, Mobility and Emotion, 7. Epilogue: Design Dispersed

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