It could be argued that if you've been to one IKEA, you've been to them all. Pretty much every outpost of the Swedish home furnishings chain is an oversized homage to minimalist design, Swedish meatballs and words without vowels. But the new IKEA opening in Manhattan on April 15 is an EKTORP of a different color, so to speak. And no matter how much you buy, you won't be carrying it home in one of those giant blue shopping bags.
In fact, a visit to IKEA's Upper East Side Planning Studio will likely feel more like a consultation with a design firm than a shopping spree.
"Co-created with New Yorkers, the Planning Studio is the first of its kind in the U.S., delivering a new IKEA experience that is more accessible and tailored to meet the home furnishing needs of city residents," explained a press release.
At the Planning Studio, customers will have the opportunity to learn about "unique small space solutions, browse a curated selection of popular IKEA items, and order products for home delivery," with IKEA sales design experts on hand to give free one-on-one help with everything from bedroom storage projects to kitchen renovations and more.
An intriguing prospect, considering the usual trip to IKEA involves little to no interaction with IKEA employees. And appointments aren't even required, though they are recommended (and for good reason, I suspect). Yet another aspect of the Planning Studio that's significantly different from the norm: At just 17,000 square feet, the Upper East Side location is "about one-twentieth the size of the company’s average location," according to Bloomberg (including the closest "traditional" IKEA, which is 10 miles away in Red Hook, Brooklyn).
The experience is divided by floor: In the basement, you can meet with designers and make use of computer stations. On the first floor, you can find out about the various services offered , such as free consultations, furniture assembly/removal, and installation. (That's right: If you don't want to do the DIY thing, this IKEA will handle the hard part for you.) The second floor sounds like the coolest spot to me personally: That's where there's a mock-up of a typical 333-foot NYC studio apartment, complete with a "window treatment above a radiator and a lesson on how to dress up a bathtub that’s not in the bathroom," reported Bloomberg.
Shoppers can order their picks from a sales representative's tablet and set up a delivery time, they just can't take anything home with them that day. (Which is fine, because who'd want to carry a bookcase home on the subway?)
If you don't live near the Big Apple, you might still have the chance to visit an IKEA Planning Studio, as there are plans to develop 30 new IKEA "touchpoints" in city centers over the next three years. (The first Planning Studio opened in London last year.) After the doors open at the NYC location on April 15, the Planning Studio will be open seven days a week, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. To learn more about your new favorite place to shop, visit the IKEA USA website.