Going Swedish in India
I have written previously about Ikea, not in absolutely complimentary terms, but it was not quite related to their products. So let me say that when it comes to furnitures, kitchenwares and such, our household swears by Ikea. We have crossed state-lines and even international borders in our search for straight lined Swedish furnitures that come in flat boxes. Honestly speaking, they just cannot be beat for prices and contemporary designs. The yummy Swedish meatballs with lingonberry sauce served in their cafeteria is of immense help as well (it keeps your energy levels up while walking through their gigantic warehouse/showrooms). When my parents came to the US last year, we took them to Ikea for ideas about interior designing the new apartment they had bought and were about to move into. They were hugely impressed with the pre-arranged room settings and took with them several Ikea catalogs to try and get some similar stuff ‘made in India’. Little did we realise then that we were contributing to a growing trend in India, which lacks an Ikea store, but not the Ikea ideas (link via Marginal Revolution – do read Alex Tabarrok’s short take on it). It is an interesting article, worth reading in whole, which talks about how young urban (and becoming quite wealthy) Indians are copying (they use the less complimentary term ‘knockoff’) Ikea designs and discusses the economic and copyright issues.
This bit, however, particularly caught my attention (emphasis mine):
Although Ikea stores have yet to arrive in India, its catalogs are sold by street hawkers and bookstores in many major cities.
What ?! I have a stack of these catalogs at home, all obtained free of course ! Maybe I could have actually made some money out of it (although the shipping costs might have killed my margin).
At the other end of the spectrum, in the developed nation of Germany, Ikea finds itself playing the role of a social service provider. Interesting outcome of a story that had its humble beginning in a small Swedish village with a local boy selling matches to his neighbours.