After three years of anticipation, the biggest IKEA in the world, reportedly the size of 150 basketball courts, is opening this week. Since it was officially announced November of 2018 that a mammoth outlet of the Scandinavian brand of affordable household goods will open at the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay, many Filipinos have been eagerly awaiting the day when they can finally do some IKEA shopping without having to leave town.
The store was supposed to open in late 2020, but the pandemic put everything on hold. Meanwhile, each announcement of delay, each notice of the famous yellow logo finally being hoisted up its shiny blue building is picked up by local media, and liked and shared by Filipino netizens. Why are Pinoys so excited about this Scandi brand of furniture and home furnishings? Or is it just the Swedish meatballs they’re aching to get their hands on?
“First, we believe that Filipinos have a strong bond with their homes—loving their homes and always want to create a beautiful home for the family,” George Platzer, Market Development Manager / Store Manager told ANCX over email in July.
“And due to the pandemic, families had to stay together at their homes longer than ever, so this bond with home became even stronger.”
But it’s really what the 78-year old brand has stood for over the years that Platzer believes is the reason Filipinos eagerly awaited the opening. “With IKEA offering wide solutions of home furnishing for a better everyday life at home, for affordable prices, perhaps Filipinos see possibilities to fulfill their dreams and aspirations of a beautiful and comfortable home.”
If the brand has indeed kept its promise in the beginning, local shoppers can expect “around 9,000 well-designed, functional home furnishing products” once they get to visit the store (You need to book your visit in advance here.). It also contains, curiously enough, some very familiar things in this side of the world: we’ve spied a tabò among its merchandise, a sliding capiz window reminiscent of our very own bahay-na-bato, a halo-halo image on the walls, and a section called Juan and Pilar.
Says Metro.Style’s Living editor Anna Francesca Rosete: “You can see that they designed for this market, from the small nuances on display: electric fans, for example. They make the Pinoy audience feel seen this way. Our lifestyle and climate are acknowledged, making it easy to envision living with their pieces.”
Pinoys have long been familiar with the popular Scandinavian brand, dropping by an outlet when abroad, allotting an entire day from their vacations just for IKEA shopping. Or “making pabili” to OFW relatives in Singapore and friends in Bangkok, whether it’s a funky dotted rug or the prickly Maskros lamp (that now looks like a white coronavirus) or one of its graphic beddings.
“Globally, IKEA has been a wonderful resource for classic modern pieces, particularly the popular Scandi look,” Rosete tells ANCX, referring to the popular minimalistic yet warm aesthetic in interior design that has been the hallmark of the brand that began as a mail-order catalogue business in 1943.
“Filipinos have had to haul balikbayan boxes of everything from IKEA, from furniture to simple storage solutions, in the past. Having the world’s largest IKEA in the Philippines is naturally something to be excited about,” the home style editor adds. “Access to good and inexpensive decor, furniture, soft furnishings and casework is within our reach now, something that was merely an aspiration in the past.”
Photos courtesy of Anna Rosete of Metro.Style