DESIGN BY IKEA (A cultural History) by Sara Kristoffersson


ISBN 9780857858146
Design by IKEA by Sara Kristoffersson

Translated by William Jewson
Bloomsbury (published October 2014)
Price £19.99


list of illustrations


Chapters 1-6: Configuring IKEA, Once Upon a Time, Swedish Stories and Design, Sweden designed by IKEA, Counter-narratives, Democracy of State




Essay style writing, which, rather deftly deals, in six information packed chapters, with the background and reasons behind the phenomenal global success of IKEA, and how a European country, namely Sweden, has obtained a cultural identity for itself largely because of this one giant of a brand. Delving deeper, Sara Kristofferrsson (the author) acknowledges that in the modern world Swedish and Scandinavian design has always influenced the industry and IKEA has never been slow to make reference to, and to be advocators of that very point. Yet, on the flip side, the author is able to state as a result of her research the following ‘That IKEA functions as Sweden’s face in the world as well as a symbol of Sweden is not just a role that the company has assumed voluntarily’.

The author is reflective of the political, historical and social landscape of Sweden (the country) and makes a round about link and comparison with IKEA (the company) in specific terms. How is it the country is seemingly quite satisfied about the company being a National symbol for it? Has the company always been masterful in business terms? Has the company always been innovative; a design leader rather than being design led? If there are cracks to be found in the business of making and selling competitively priced furniture then the author is revealing of them.

Comment and Guide

The author intelligently discusses a subject I would have loved to have had the idea first to discuss; it is a fascinating read. The translation by William Jewson is expertly executed. Not all of it is plain fact, and you need to allow time to ponder on information and perhaps argue with it (in your mind).

Overhearing a conversation recently one youth said to another ‘Everything is made in China these days’, then announces as his example, ‘like IKEA!’ After reading this book, this young man’s assumption may not be as far wrong as you may first think.





Review by TSS Editor Debra Hall, a professional theatre critic and experienced reviewer


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