IKEA Fan Sites

A couple of years ago, the fabulous Nina Wakeford gave a keynote address at the Association of Internet Researchers. She began by musing on what kind of named chair she would like to have were she to have one. I can’t do her performance justice, but she said she’d decided she’d like to be “an IKEA chair” — offering simple brightly colored theories that you could take home but which never fit together quite as well as they did at the store.

Love it or hate it, IKEA’s got allure, and like Trader Joe’s, it’s also got some serious fandom going on around it. See for example this site which violates every design principle for which IKEA is known (but which sure shows the love!). Or this one for fans of the stores in Ohio.

What does it take for a store to get a fan phenomenon going on around it? Both Trader Joes and IKEA seem to have a distinctive ethos — a value system that they are consistent in pursuing. For Trader Joes it’s cheap, healthy, food from a variety of cultures. For IKEA it’s cheap, bright, simple, and cheerful aesthetics. Both of those are qualities that people can think “I’m the kind of person who likes…” These stores know what they do and they do it consistently. They’ve got their own style, and they’re easy to identify with.

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