Rebecca Carrai: The IKEA House: an alternative perspective on modern domestic space through commercial home models
Throughout the 20th century, domestic space has been progressively exhibited in public and commercial venues. In these exhibitions, a frequently used tool was the realization of 1:1 scale house and domestic models, where customers were offered a realistic experience of their future homes. Thanks to their fictional qualities, architectural mock-ups were not only perceived as useful marketing tools, but also as places for broader social, cultural and spatial experimentation. Also today full scale domestic models have a significant impact on the interpretations of the modern house. Large commercial players such as IKEA take up a crucial role in this respect. By carefully engineering 1:1 scale showrooms, the Swedish company advertises a universal idea of home, based on ingenious spatial arrangements and appealingly designed homewares. Despite their pervasive field of action, IKEA’s showrooms have been utterly overlooked by canonical architectural histories. This project addresses this lacuna. Engaging IKEA’s production from a novel architectural perspective, it aims to investigate the transformation of domestic space through an in-depth analysis of the products, spatial designs and advertisement of the multinational retailer. Using the categories of gender, politics and labour, the research tackles the company’s commercial production in Europe from 1943 to our days, portraying the ‘IKEA house’ as a seminal case-study for our understanding of domestic spaces transformations.
PhD student working on this project: Rebecca Carrai