Wednesday, August 02, 2006

A Sweden Must-Do: IKEA

Okay, it's time to talk about a Swedish icon - IKEA. If you are going to be in Sverige for any length of time, you really should try to get to see one. They're a national institution. At time of writing, there are 15 stores in Sweden, with the 16th one scheduled to open this November. This one will be at Haparanda-Tornio, located on the border of Sweden and Finland, and will be the northernmost IKEA store in the world.

On a recent Sunday, I got my chance to go to one with A and G. Even though there are 15 or 16 stores, there are currently none in the province of Blekinge. One of the nearest stores is about 110km away at Kalmar. This is in the province of Småland, to the north of Blekinge. To this date, it marks the northernmost point on the globe to which I have travelled. The province contains some important cities, such as Växjö, Jönköping, and of course Kalmar (umlaut-free!).
The drive there was dominated by two main topics - the number of churches along the way, highlighted by roadsigns, and also the number of speed cameras. In Sweden, the cameras appear to be in fixed positions, and there are roadsigns telling you that there will be cameras for the next so many kilometres. Just so you don't miss it and drive past, the sign for the IKEA store is quite elevated: Although the Kalmar store is only single-storey, G tells me it is of about the same area as the one in Malmö which has two floors. Nevertheless, it was still HUGE. Here's me standing in front of the entrance, just to prove that I actually am here - I don't think I have posted a photo of me yet, so here is some kind of proof.
There's plenty of things to buy inside the store. One of the more interesting products were these critters - I imagine they are footstools or something similar.
Getting through all of the items at IKEA can take out a serious chunk of your day, so the thoughtful (and enterprising) people at IKEA introduced restaurants in their stores, so that you can shop for longer than just between meals. Here is a photo of what we bought. Although the sauce was a little rich, the meal as a whole was delicious.
Whilst seated at the table for lunch, I happened to notice some of the light fittings in the store. It's not obvious from this angle, but they were in fact made on a dodecahedral (the sides are pentagons) framework, which I thought was very cool.
Here is a view of part of the store. I apologise that I did not have the camera held flat when I took this, so it looks like the store goes noticeably uphill, which in fact it does not.