Is IKEA Trying to Take Over the Universe?

A rendering of the IKEA location coming soon to Glendale.
Courtesy of IKEA
A rendering of the IKEA location coming soon to Glendale.
I admit it: I worry that IKEA is trying to take over the universe. Or at least the interior aesthetic of the American Southwest.

On the other hand, I’ve never been a huge fan of rustic-beamed ceilings and light fixtures made from repurposed wagon wheels. So it’s hard for me to hate IKEA, even when melamine-covered knock-offs of Midcentury Danish Modern aren’t my thing. But every once in awhile a guy needs some fiberboard shelving or an Elmo-red welcome mat or an accordioned shaving mirror named Fartyg.

And there’s no better place for these things than IKEA.

I do hate the drive to IKEA, though. It’s 20 minutes from my downtown Phoenix home to our local IKEA, way out at the ass-end of Tempe. That’s all about to change, though, because the Swedish furniture giant plans to open a second Arizona store in Glendale.

The new 348,000-square-foot store, set to debut in Spring 2020, will break ground late next year. Located at the Loop 101 and Bethany Home Road, it will allow west-side folks and those living in midtown to buy a dresser named Olofstorp or a ladle called Grumby without a half-hour slog to the far east side.

It was only a matter of time, really. All those new apartment buildings going up all over town have to be furnished with something. And IKEA is apartment furniture, really. One can’t imagine even its highest-end sofa among more elevated objects in the salon of a faux Tuscan villa in Troon.

Interior fashion appears to be firmly stalled these days in Midcentury Modern aesthetic — leggy side tables, nubby arm chairs, teakwood credenzas, and all those amusingly shaped lamps.
Is that because IKEA set an aesthetic standard for folks on a furniture budget, with its massive catalog of low-priced, '60s-styled furnishings and household gear? Or because the post-boomer generation is still enamored of the thrift store chic of butterfly chairs and macramé owls? IKEA isn’t going to shift gears and begin marketing bargain-tagged French Deco, but if it did, would 30-somethings start decorating their rental homes with Jules Leleu copies?

I know. I’m overthinking the opening of a giant furniture store.

IKEA is bringing a second Arizona outlet to our neck of the woods because there’s a market for dormitory décor and really cool nesting bowls. And because a bunch of people who fit their shopping demographic are moving here to our neck of the woods. Period.

IKEA's goofily-named desks and side tables may have changed the aesthetic of the middle class, but not because they’re trying to replace all our Native-inspired drum tables with Dagstorp sofas and Smorbol bedding sets.

They’re not trying to overtake the American rental community with oddly hanging tansus and canvas storage containers.

Or are they?