Most people have that one Ikea item they lust after. For me, and for the longest time, it was the Aptitlig butcher’s block. Yeah, yeah. I drew some quizzical looks from my girlfriend as I made a beeline to the kitchen area of every Ikea store we visited (Yokohama and Hong Kong) to get my hands on those bamboo beauties. No, no. I don’t use them to carve meat up. Those Aptitligs went straight to the audio rack because, as many audiophiles have found out, slabs made of bamboo make excellent isolation platforms for turntables. Don’t make me explain how. They just do: less vibration, tighter bass, more focused imaging. Vintage Technics 1200 Mk2 turntables on top of the Aptitligs instead of symmetrical cuts of liempo.
Audio hobbyists have this love affair with Ikea.
The Ikea Expedit is an iconic shelving system perfect for vinyl records. Imagine your “Kind of Blue,” “A Love Supreme,” “Badmotorfinger,” “Hejira” and “The Royal Scam” neatly stacked, with either spine or cover exposed for easy perusing and arranged alphabetically or (in the case of the lead bloke in Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity) biographically. When the Swedish furniture company decided to discontinue the Expedit, it left many vinyl-heads “sad, angry and confused.” There was even a “Save the Expedit” group on Facebook. But the Kallax (almost identical to the Expedit) quickly too its place and all’s well in the world again. If you collect vinyl and you see a Kallax (in high-gloss white or white stained oak or Metallica-worthy black) in an Ikea store in whatever part of the world, you would want to buy a couple of 4x4s and worry later as to how you would check them in Changi or Narita.
For us Filipinos, we need not worry about these things when the world’s largest Ikea store opens at the SM Mall of Asia Complex in 2020.
How big would it be? At around 65,000 square meters, the store will be about as mammoth as 150 basketball courts — almost double the size of a typical Ikea big blue-box.
The Ikea store (to be situated between the MOA Arena and the SMX Convention Center) in Manila will carry 9,000 well-designed, functional home furnishings and it will also include a warehouse, an e-commerce facility and an integrated call center.
It will have everything people need for their homes under one roof — from candles and cookware to kitchens and sofas. There are also hundreds of products that help people live a more sustainable life at home, ranging from affordable LED lights to recycling solutions. A typical Ikea store includes more than 55 inspirational room settings. The self-serve warehouse has flat-packed products ready to be taken home the same day. Parents can drop off kids at a supervised playroom and there is also a restaurant with meals for the whole family (with Swedish meatballs, of course).
Ikea will be the latest addition to the SM Group’s growing international brands that already include Forever21, Crate & Barrel, Uniqlo, Ace Hardware, Alfamart and Watsons.
SM chief operating officer Steven Tan remembers going to Ikea stores in Hong Kong and China, and hand-carrying all his purchase on the flight home. “Now, we can just shop in Manila,” shares Tan. “Ikea is SM’s biggest tenant ever. As you may know, SM Supermalls strives to be continually relevant, developing malls and hosting brands that build on the aspirations of Filipinos toward a better quality of life. Ikea is a brand that makes every day better for people — and SM identifies with this very strongly.”
Christian Rojkjaer, managing director of Ikea Southeast Asia, agrees. “Like Ikea, the Sy family and SM have strong values that come from humble beginnings,” Rojkjaer says. “SM built a business that has revolutionised retail in the Philippines and is now a national pride for many Filipinos. We are very happy and proud to have such an experienced retailer and developer working with us.”
Georg Platzer, future Ikea store manager in Manila, has been in Manila for two and a half years already. Platzer and a few members of Team Ikea have been “visiting homes and learning about how Filipinos live and what would they like to do with their homes.” He explains, “People who come to Ikea don’t just come to shop; people come to enjoy a great day out.”
That would be someone like me and we are legion — fondling the Aptitligs, testing the Jansjö lamps, and fitting a room in a sunlit corner of Manila with a galaxy of Kallaxes.
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For information, visit www.IKEA.ph.