broken parabolic



3 January 2010

If Ikea isn't a Behavioural Study masquerading as a furniture retailer, it should be.

First, their shopping carts. Most have two fixed wheels at the back, and will only travel in more or less the direction they're pointed. Not at Ikea. All four wheels on the cart swivel, which means you can point it straight ahead of you but sidestep to the left or right, and the cart still moves with you.

For three hours in that place today, all I could think was 'This is awesome. I feel like I'm flying a Viper'. And it would almost be a shame if there wasn't somebody watching on a surveillance camera, noticing how I would take unnecessary turns and circle things off-axis for no practical reason, all the while with my toddler in the cart.

Second, store layout = rat maze, complete with hidden shortcuts for the extra-smart. Not much more to say there.

Of course, then there's the assembly of Ikea products. I wonder sometimes exactly where in the packaging they put the camera. The funny thing about Ikea directions is that they actually do tell you exactly how to put the thing together, but they don't warn you about the subtle little never-in-a-million-years-would-you-notice detail in the picture that you've overlooked, and which won't become apparent until six pages later and usually involves a lot of disassembly and bad language to correct. Combine that with the fact that fourteen of the nineteen parts look virtually identical to anyone who isn't a mechanical engineer, and Ikea's senseless and irrational bias against the use of written instruction dissuades them from labeling the parts with stickers or something that say 'A' or 'LEFT', and you have hours of entertainment for clandestine observers, and heaps of fascinating data for psychological analysis.

Seriously, Ikea. If you're not watching us, it's a tremendous waste of an incredible chance.

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