A second look at furniture

A research manager from the UK and I were having a late lunch of bibimbap at a Korean restaurant on busy Tomas Morato that we espied after a few rounds of circling the area for dining places. Two other tables were occupied- one by an all-female group who appeared to be society matrons and were obviously celebrating an occasion, and the other by serious-looking all-male group who looked like businessmen. When we entered, we were given lingering looks the kind directed at white foreigners and locals accompanying them. I loathe attention but it’s something I bear as part of work. We quickly chose a table, nearest the door.

Having placed our orders and while taking sips of green tea, I commented to my companion that the place speaks of true or traditional Korean design. My companion had the same observation. Uncluttered minimalist look. Wood furnishing. And to drive home the point, the rack by the door held papers only in Korean. I wouldn’t understand anything of what’s written (reason to learn the language?). There were no windows on our floor (ground) but curiously the room didn’t feel claustrophobic. Maybe it was the high ceiling and muted mid gray palette.

Then she told me about the time when her family – herself, her husband, and their first child – relocated to Sydney from London. For their first sets of furniture, and considering their need to put together a living space quickly (she still works in London; her husband an Australian maintains business in Australia) they took to IKEA which recently opened in Sydney at the time. She wasn’t an IKEA fan previously but discovered that the brand carried some really good stuff especially for new couples or families. Laughing, she recounted the fun time they had making the several trips to the store and home and assembling the pieces. But forgive me she said did you know about IKEA though? I said I knew about it from magazines and if it opened in the country I’d definitely visit. I mentioned that Muji which also carries similar pieces has already opened stores in major cities here and is the more familiar brand locally.

That was the first time talk during lunch hour had been about furnitures and it wasn’t boring at all. It opened to me new insights about the place of furnitures in the home. Recently I came across an article on the subject, fortuituous really- IKEA’s Head of Research on the Future of Furniture.

When it comes to your home and to purchasing home furnishings, you typically do it very seldomly. You buy a car more often than you buy a new sofa or a new kitchen. It’s hard to relate to it, compared to clothing or whatever you buy at the supermarket. Also, in our homes, we are often unaware of how we actually behave. And many people play a specific role out in the world, then you come home, maybe you undress yourself, and you feel like my god, now I can be myself. In our research we want to come closer to people’s everyday lives, people’s reality.

Read the article here.

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