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"When you're inside an Ikea store, you must come to terms with a near permanent state of bewilderment: shelves stacked with flat brown boxes labelled with random codes and names; a yellow road which takes you inexplicably through bedrooms when all you wanted was some kitchen handles." (Susie Steiner, The Guardian, 2005).

Normally architects organize space to make the experience as efficient as possible. At IKEA though, however, the (almost 'urban') designers deliberately set out to confuse people, drawing them into buying things that are not on their shopping list. If you like to watch this phenomenon being scientifically analyzed in extreme detail, meanwhile enjoying the view of various (heat)maps, graphs, 3D reconstructions and other illustrations, then be sure to watch the recording of a talk (the IKEA case in particular starts around the 24:30 mark), by Alan Penn, Professor of Architectural and Urban Computing at The Bartlett School of Graduate Studies, University College London.

The presentation focuses on how architects use space to sell things, by demonstrating how space creates patterns of movement, bringing people into contact with goods. It starts off with how spatial quality influences spatial behavior, which is then applied on urban environments, retail and shopping spaces in general, and then moves on to supermarkets, and IKEA in particular.



I am all too well aware of the IKEA distracting shop design, and I actually used to enjoy it, to a point. But since kids came I'm constantly in a hurry. Fortunately, the shop staff needs to move around quickly so they designed shortcuts into the system: doors guarded by "STAFF ONLY" placards (and nothing else) that allow to bypass large sections of the floor. I use them often and I'm yet to be stopped by the security - this is Poland, so YMMV...

Wed 21 Sep 2011 at 6:58 PM
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