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Something IKEA & iconic this way comes

By IGAN D'BAYAN, The Philippine Star Published Jul 10, 2021 6:00 am

It nearly broke the internet; well, sort of.  The backstory: last July 7, in preparation for the opening of the first store in Pasay City toward the end of 2021, IKEA Philippines launched its “IKEA Family” club.

IKEA Family is a home-furnishing club with more than 150 million members globally. The club aims to reach, inspire, and support members in creating their dream home. It is open to everyone who wants to make life at home better: from those whose domiciles are their passion, to those who are just starting out and need a helping hand.

Members are treated with special benefits, rewards, experiences, and surprises all year round.

 Steven Tan, SM Supermalls president, and Georg Platzer, market development manager and future store manager of IKEA Philippines

The idea was to garner 100,000 members within the first 24 hours of the launch of the website. Word got out that Ikea aimed to give all members who register during the first 24 hours a chance to win one out of three IKEA Home makeover packages worth P50,000, plus exclusive design consultations with Ikea interior designers.

Who would not want a walnut-tinted Kallax in one’s living room housing all the Factory and Stax records you have amassed during the many nuanced variants of quarantine? Or what about a red PS cabinet to safeguard your collectibles as well as travel documents attracting a sheen of dust and nearing expiration?

The warehouse on the fifth level is a huge one that aims to provide the instant-gratification needs of Ikea customers for home furnishing. This is the reason why IKEA Philippines is going to be the biggest store in the world.

Something – anything – from the iconic global furniture giant: pieces that blend Swedish modernism, Scandinavian cool, and the hands-on sorcery of assembling it yourself.

 Ikea has flexible living room set pieces for the secret minimalist within you.

Then came midnight of July 7. It was like the storming of Mordor or the Long Night at Winterfell. The site managers were prepared for a total of 120,000 sign-ups within the hour, but they did not anticipate 100,000 eager browsers accessing the site during the first minute. The site crashed.

Executives said that they were both humbled and surprised by the surge of visitors to their IKEA Family website.

 Under blue skies: Ikea Philippines opens in Q4 of 2021.

“(It) was a great learning for us. We have been preparing for the Philippines for a couple of years now and we are continuously learning, and will continuously improve our preparation. We cannot wait to welcome everyone to the IKEA Family,” Ikea Southeast Asia development manager Georg Platzer said in a statement.

The site, dear readers, is now up and running, and the registration to qualify for the raffle has been extended until tomorrow, July 11.

Thus, the quest — domestically mythical — begins.

 The Ikea Trones shoe cabinets

Platzer tells us what we should expect once Ikea opens its largest branch ever — right here in our own neck of the woods.

Each IKEA store anywhere in the world welcomes its customers with “locally relevant home-furnishing solutions.” Platzer says, “You can expect to see home and room sets (at the Ikea store in the SM Mall of Asia Complex) with a Filipino touch.”

 All your style amulets in place.

The warehouse on the fifth level is a huge one that aims to provide the instant-gratification needs of Ikea customers for home furnishing. Platzer explains, “This is the reason why Ikea Philippines is going to be the biggest store in the world.”

While there is an increased view on the digital mechanisms, IKEA still believes that the physical store provides a different shopping experience that a digital platform cannot provide.

He adds, “We are also looking at Q4 of 2021 for our online store to open. It will just be a little earlier than the physical store. Digital infrastructure has always been in our radar, as it’s been existing in our Southeast Asia stores. But while there is an increased view on the digital mechanisms, we still believe that the physical store provides a different shopping experience that a digital platform cannot provide.”

 The Ikea Eilif screen for desks

Nothing like going around the orderly labyrinths of an Ikea store and finding something you’ve been looking for all these years (a Micke or Brusali workstation or an Alien key lamp), or something you never thought you needed but turned out to be the missing piece of your always-in-a-state-of-flux dream home. Consider it your homey grail.

 Mimic the stars with LED lighting chains.

SM Supermalls president Steven Tan remembers going to IKEA stores in Hong Kong and China, and hand-carrying all his purchases on the flight home. “Now, we can just shop in Manila. 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.”

 A pin-board of epiphanies

Platzer has his own fond memory of going to IKEA.

“It was 1984 and I was 19 years old and we just moved into our first home together with my girlfriend back then, who is now my beloved wife. We had to buy through mail order because there was no IKEA in our town of Graz in Austria. I still have a chest of drawers from that time — and I even brought it with me to Manila.”

They have their memories. Soon, we shall have ours — one wedge dowel at a time.