IKEA brought the harsh reality of the Syrian crisis in store, setting up a 25-square-metre replica of a real Syrian family home at its Norway flagship.
November 9th, 2016
It’s pretty bleak out there – a fact that can be all too easy to forget when we are siloed into the working world of design. Swedish furniture giant IKEA knows just how easy it is to consume and be consumed, especially when strolling through its maze-like shop floor, lined with immaculate everyday lounge room installations and kitchen displays.
In October IKEA installed a 25-square-metre replica of a real Syrian family’s home at its Norway flagship, in amongst its standard styled displays. The idea was to drive home a harsh reality. However accessible its design is, IKEA’s neat flatpack furniture is simply not everyone’s everyday.
To make the experience as authentic as possible, POL (the ad agency who dreamt up the activation), built the installation on-site. “It would have been easier to just put up wallpaper, but it wouldn’t have felt the same,” art director Snorre Martinsen told AdWeek. “People who had fled war themselves have told us, ‘This is how it feels.’ ‘I remember this.'”
Built out of cinder block walls and decorated only in scant furnishings, the home was a replica of an actual residence in Damascus. Created in partnership with the Red Cross, posters and plastic IKEA price tags in the installation told the story of a Syrian family’s plight, including their struggle to find fundamental food, medicine and clean water supplies. The tags doubled as donations slips, and the campaign raised more than AU$31.5 million being seen by some 40,000 visitors to the store.
“We already had a lot of footage from within Syria, but no matter how emotional it was, nothing got close to the experience of visiting people in a war zone,” Martinsen continued. “We realized we could give Norwegians that experience. Placing a Syrian home next to all the Scandinavian homes was obviously a brave move from the warehouse, but it made it clearer than any TV commercial how crucial it is to donate and help.”
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