LONDON — IKEA celebrated its 30th birthday in the UK by hosting a pop-up “House Party” in Soho, London.
IKEA transformed a house on Greek Street into an “immersive experience” showing how the UK’s living rooms have transformed in the decades since IKEA first arrived in 1987.
Each floor was decorated to represent a typical living room from the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s — as well as a floor dedicated to what IKEA thinks the 2020s could look like.
The “House Party” ran for a week and was open to the public until last Saturday. If you didn’t get the chance to go, take a look around with Business Insider:
The 'House Party' begins in the 1980s. There's a lot of colour everywhere with bold, blue walls and a bright red sofa.
Throughout the house, IKEA employed actors dressed like they were from each decade to help you get a sense of the era. Boldly coloured clothing and ponytails with scrunchies are the order of the day in the 80s.
Board games are the main form of entertainment in the 1980s living room. Here some IKEA staff dressed in the shop's original uniform enjoy a game of Connect Four.
TVs feature in the living rooms of the 1980s but most are much smaller than the ones we are used to today.
Climb the stairs one floor and now we're in the 1990s. The first thing you notice is the change in colour palette. Gone are the bold colours of the 80s, replaced by beiges and browns. Carpets are also out, replaced by hardwood floors.
The 1990s were when IKEA first introduced its stuffed animal range, popular with many 90s kids, and there's a crate of stuffed snakes and lions in the corner.
TVs are much bigger now and, thanks to the rise of consoles, video games explode in popularity. N64 anyone?
By the 1990s, IKEA was adapting its range to fit local markets. UK CEO Gillian Drakeford told Business Insider: 'When IKEA arrived, they'd basically taken a very Scandinavian company, a very Swedish range, and really just landed it in the country and said, let's see what's going to happen.'
'As we've expanded as a brand, we've connected much more into how people actually live in the market,' Drakeford said. 'We will do over 200 home visits a year. We go in and poke around and really look at the way people live. What their needs are, what challenges they have, what is their dream. We sell products, but really it's a lifestyle.'
That's enough of the 1990s -- let's head to the 2000s! The colour palette changes again, this time to a crisp, cool monochrome. The TV is flatter and mounted on the wall, and the dinner table shrinks.
'What we can see if the living room has changed over time,' Drakeford said. 'What is the living room today? It's where families come together but generally, they're doing different activities.
'We have space for people to read a book, space for people to be on an iPad, we have small products that support sitting watching something on an iPad on your lap.'
While IKEA's range may have expanded and adapted to keep up with the changing times, it hasn't changed that much. The sofa on all three floors so far has been exactly the same one -- just in different colours!
Finally, what does the future look like? The top floor of the 'House Party' is given over to IKEA's vision of what our living rooms might look like in 10 or 15 years time.
The aesthetic is pared-down even further, with white walls and floors. But the biggest change is the introduction of technology. The future room features a wall that projects LED patterns based on heat in the room, a talking mirror, and motion-sensitive lights.
IKEA also thinks that the outside will come inside -- there's ivy growing on the walls and in the corner is a hydroponic set-up for growing herbs and other plants in your house. This reflects the fact that, as the population rises, space is increasingly at a premium and outdoor gardens will become rarer.
The contrast between the future floor and the other levels is pretty big, underlining just how much our society is changing at the moment. IKEA is having to rapidly adapt to these changes, embracing technology, smaller stores, and changing living habits.
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