Karrie Jacobs


June 9, 2008

The Ikeans Have Landed!

The Swedes have invaded Downtown Brooklyn.

Last night the Bard of Red Hook had a party, and a bunch of us stood around his steamy concrete backyard discussing the most crucial topic of the day, the impending opening of the Ikea Store on nearby Beard St, and the ceaseless traffic that will soon undermine the sleepy quality that has heretofore made Red Hook so delightful. The rumor is that there are people — Ikea-diots, as the furniture designer who was tending the Weber called them — who will actually camp out in order to be among the first customers in the door of any new Ikea store. The idea struck me as improbable, but tragic.

Today, I ventured out into the hot, hot sun and discovered that someone had plopped a giant Ikea box on the plaza in front of the New York State Supreme Court Building and Borough Hall. The heart of Downtown Brooklyn had suddenly filled with smiling young people wearing yellow tee-shirts, energetically pressing grand opening brochures into the hands of passersby.

On the back page of the brochure I found pictures of the fabulous things early birds can get for free: The first 35 visitors will get a marshmallowy EKTORP sofa, a $399 value. Visitors 36-135 will each get a POANG chair (sorry, but I don’t know how to put the umlaut over the A), an $89.99 value. House plants and a scary looking heart-shaped plush toy (it’s got arms) will also be dispensed. There was no mention of meatballs.

Suddenly it dawned on me that it might be true, that there might actually be people willing to travel great distances and endure extreme hardship for a free EKTORP or POANG. It is just too sad to contemplate.

P.S. Still more Swedes.

Ikea invasion box, the south facade.


This item has gotten more traffic than anything I’ve ever posted and for that I’m grateful to Materialicious and the MakeBlog. However, I feel like I’ve unintentionally given Ikea a whole shitload of free advertising, which was not my intention. In the spirit of civic responsibility, I’m posting the following comment, emailed to me by Robert Anderson of Chicago:

I just read your blog post on the Ikea box in the plaza in
Brooklyn... Is that not a public space? How can such advertising take
place there?

I'm curious if you know what Ikea had to do (and to whom did they do
it?) to get the ok to drop a four-sided billboard in such a place?

Has the space been used for ads before? Seems very wrong.

I responded as follows:

Good question.  I would guess that they had to pay a fee.  The big box was
there for a day and was disassembled the night I took the picture.  The
plaza in question is used three days a week for a farmers' market and, on
other days is often the site of both civic and commercial events and/or

Actually, a few days before the Ikea box, the steps of Brooklyn's Borough
Hall and the adjacent plaza were used for a staged pep rally in favor of a
particularly heinous development called Atlantic Yards that is much
detested in this part of Brooklyn.  And *that* seemed like a true abuse of
public space to me.

Yeah, I know. This would be easier if I had my comments enabled, but I don’t. If you have anything to add  to  this discussion, email me: kj[at]karriejacobs.com.