The first stage is to deny that you're going back to IKEA. Yes, you say, I sit at an IKEA kitchen table on IKEA chairs. My television rests on an IKEA stand. My bathroom toiletries hang on an IKEA shelf and my hallway plant rests on an IKEA side table. My wall clock, entry carpet, microwave stand, CD holders, floor lamp, desk lamp, flower vase, juice pitcher, cutting board, spatula, soup spoons, soap dispenser, cat bed, tea candle holders and tea candles are all from IKEA. But you're tired of it. It's too common, too post-graduate. You want something different. You're going to other stores and you're not going back to IKEA.
The second stage of IKEA is acceptance when you realize that indeed you are going back to IKEA. A big reason: compared to Caban or Restoration Hardware, IKEA is all you can afford. And it's not so bad, you say, because you like the clever presentation and cheap prices. IKEA is Zellers for people who want to be hip to design but can't afford to live in Yaletown. The second big reason you're going back: you have a secret desire to play in the ball room.
The third stage of IKEA is wonder when you walk through the showroom, which is a work of retail merchandising genius. Room by room, section by section, IKEA's walk of the good but affordable life lays out a vision of comfort, orderliness and economy untainted with ostentation or crassness. Bedrooms, offices, kitchens and whole apartment suites dressed from floor to ceiling in IKEA ware are portrayed as reflections of the perfect platonic form of ideal domestic living. Sofas neatly turn into beds, kitchen tables fold harmoniously into walls and magazines are tucked nicely into the side pockets of desks. The lines are clean and the scale never out of hand. It's Swedish social democracy in consumable form. You begin to think that if everyone got their fair ration of Zvepa water jugs and Fantastik paper napkins, and had their own Gallant office collection and Karlanda loveseats, a collectivist economy and social order might just work. And they have that nice blue colour in their flag.
The fourth stage of IKEA is back to denial. Having wandered through the showroom's temptations and filled up your shopping cart with closet organizers, kitchen place mats and bathroom toilet roll holders-- none of which you had any intention to buy before you walked through the store's doors, you decide to go for broke and buy a computer desk, which packs down to a five by seven foot cardboard flat box weighing about 50 pounds. You tell yourself it will fit into your car without a problem.
It does not.
The fifth stage of IKEA, after a miracle of the gods when you somehow got your desk into your car, hauled it up four flights of stairs in a building that doesn't have an elevator to your home, is when you feel a sense of adventure. Your purchase is now on your living room floor, unpacked and with all the parts, none of which are missing, laid out before you. The wordless instruction manual uses clear illustrations. The parts come with a nifty Allen key (which will go well with your growing collection of Allen keys from past purchases). Assembling this desk is going to be as smooth as glass.
The sixth stage of IKEA is surprise when assembling the desk is not as smooth as glass. Half way through, with the legs and desk frame put together, but many parts still on the floor, you realize that two parts do not fit together as portrayed in the manual.
The seventh stage is mounting frustration. These parts are supposed to fit together. It's in the manual.
The eighth stage is insane anger when the parts still do not fit, despite your every inventive try. The one hour you estimated to put the desk together has grown to three. You have a vision of yourself needing to pack up the desk and its parts into 50 pounds of junk and hauling it all the way back to Richmond. You vow to get satisfaction, if not revenge, for your pain. You will picket the Swedish consulate, send hate mail to Stockholm, kick the first blond person you see in the knee.
Then, by the same divine providence that allowed you to load the desk into your car, the parts suddenly fit with a tidy, cheery snap. You don't know or why, but you rejoice. Stages six through eight are immediately forgotten, leading to ...
... stage nine, which is denial again. The assembly went great, you say, just look at the results. The desk is a cool Nordic blend of function, form and ergonomic harmony. You take a digital pic of it once it's assembled and send it to family and friends. Then you write about it on your blog. You love IKEA.
But a few hours later, sitting at your new desk and typing away on your computer, the elation of earlier in the day fades and a new realization comes upon you. You're tired of going back to IKEA all the time. Too common, too post-graduate. You want something different. And you make a resolution.
You reach stage ten: You'll never shop there again.