So, who are the ‘real people’ behind Ikea’s design dreams?

Ikea has developed its new Carrickmines store around real people, they say


Swedish furniture manufacturer Ikea has modelled its new “order and collection point” in Carrickmines on the design aspirations of real people, in real homes in Ireland, Sweden, England and Denmark, the company says.

In what has claimed is “a new way of shopping with us”, Ikea customers in south county Dublin will, from Monday, September 5th, be able to wander their “design dreams” – a series of showcase rooms in Carrickmines.

The outlet beside the M50 will feature an “order and collection point” a concept the company has piloted in Norwich and Aberdeen, and is shortly to open in London. The idea is that you come, be inspired, order you goods and collect them the next working day.

Included in the “inspirational planning space” are showcase design solutions based on the space and décor needs of “real people with real lives”.

A sittingroom on display we are told has been designed for Paul (33) and Simon (35). They are a couple with “a strong sense of style”. They bought their city centre apartment together just over four years ago and like to indulge their love of cafes, art galleries, wine bars and eateries.

Simon is passionate about wine, and more particularly red wine. Ikea has built a sittingroom adorned with vases, glassware and textiles. A collection of wine glasses sits on shelves lining one entire wall. Pictures abound - including a framed picture of a bottle of Malbec. The effect is both trendy and personal.

Elsewhere we are shown “Sinead (48) and Sean’s (49) boutique-hotel style” bedroom and dressingroom with black furniture, black glass topped bedside lockers and dressing table, a yellow stool and yellow bedroom chair. With subdued lighting white bed linen and the shiny-black surfaces it is at once luxurious and like an advertisement for a designer hotel. We are told Sinead and Sean live in their “forever home” in Bray and Sinead has reserved “about three quarters of the walk in dressingroom is for her own clothes”, with the remainder going to her partner.

But are these invented people, we ask? “No” comes the reply. “These are real cases, based on interviews and research to create a design dream for these people”.

“The idea is that you can come in and tell us: I have a lot of full length dresses what can you do for me? Or I have a lot of shoes, what can you do for me” and Ikea will find a design dream for you, explaines commercial manager Eithne Lavin.

The real people’s design solutions continue with six-year-old “Charlie” from Co Kildare. Charlie’s mum and dad, we are told, had moved to Co Kildare before the economic crash and were now “still there” and starting to look at investing in the house, beginning with the child’s bedroom.

The child’s room is laid out with cupboards and drawers in orange and white with storage boxes for toys, a scaled-down bed, books and a toy dinosaur reflecting Charlie’s interests.

Next along we have a kitchen for Aoife and Darragh both aged 41 years. The kitchen is a 12 square metre space with wall units topped with glass-fronted, back-lit cupboards reaching full height to the ceiling. The effect is to utilise a previously dusty unused kitchen space to display glassware and maximise cupboard space. The wall cupboards themselves have sliding shelves so you can find items without feeling you might lose a hand in the darker recesses. Darragh, a carpenter from Tallaght was able to put the kitchen together himself, we are told.

For all others Ikea can recommend someone to put the furniture together, says Lavin.

Keeping with the “super personal” theme Ikea has discovered that some 3,000 apartments are scheduled to be built in the Cherrywood area, close to the new store and the company has designed a “landlord’s” space to be helpful .

The landlord’s space is an open plan kitchen/dining and sitting room of 20sq metres. In terms of trends “open plan living is everything” says Lavin who goes on to explain the apartment is designed for renters Monica and Paul who are aged 25. Textiles and accessories are in pinks and browns and almost all Ikea sofa covers can be changed to give the place a new look, we are told.

Potential customers can avail of this personalised design advice at over a glass of freshly squeezed fruit - and vegetable - juice in the Ikea coffee shop which is also part of the “personalised inspirational space”.

Or they can peruse the “Zen-like” garden space where you can read about Ikea’s use of sustainable materials, such as bamboo and birch, as well as the €100 million the company gives to children’s charities each year.

Smaller items, including food - we particularly wondered how the Knackebrod would go in south Dublin - can be taken away immediately of course. Accessories including solid wooden chopping boards for €4.75 and ‘throws’ - that’s a rug to you and I, are on sale for €15.

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