Last week, I was invited to the launch event of IKEA’s ‘Make Room for Life’ project – an initiative aimed at creating a more realistic and inspiring shopping experience for the IKEA shopper. The store at Yas Island, Abu Dhabi was one of only three stores worldwide selected to pilot this new store solution. A pretty impressive accolade. Representatives of both the UAE team and IKEA of Sweden were present to talk us through the new features.
What might you expect to see as the ‘new generation’ showrooms roll out in due course? Let me share my observations.
What was immediately noticeable for me is a renewed focus on lifestyle with interior styling intended to inspire the customer. The familiar rows of furniture, traditionally displayed to demonstrate a wide variety of choice, have disappeared and the new display style places room settings across the department in clusters (now called ‘neighbourhoods’) intended to increase the level of inspiration all round. There is more use of co-ordinating textiles in these neighbourhood set ups, which offers customers great ideas on how to style a whole room using rugs, cushions, etc that work well together. There are also fabulous new minimalist display racks.
I’m pleased to report that pre-defined maze-like grey walkways have given way to continuous light flooring that invites you to explore in any direction rather than directing your path. The four wall room-like spaces have become more realistic with a variety of decorative finishes including wallpaper, wood panelling and paint effects. Consideration has been given to regional lifestyles and influences with beautiful majlis displays that put a modern twist on traditional settings. These spaces also include more architectural features like windows and doors. On the whole, everything seems a lot more realistic.
The living room area also boasts interactive technology with the introduction of tablets that can be used to browse through the range of products available. The use of this technology ensures more people can now interact with products on a digital level, at the same time clearing up and re-utilizing spaces within the department otherwise used by traditional product display. The tablets have some funky features like inputting your mobile number to receive an SMS with details and location of the products you may want to pick up downstairs.
Isn’t it just like IKEA to know when their audience is ready for a change. The ‘Make Room for Life’ project is set to roll out across all of IKEA’s 380 stores globally within a year. I look forward to seeing this new look take shape across the region.