Last June, just a few months after Ikea Australia introduced a high chair for dogs and a Sicilian Ikea's pro-gay-family ads incited wrath from conservatives in Italy, Jon Stewart aired a segment on The Daily Show in which he blamed Ikea for making America "Sweden's Mexico." A month after that, a totally fake (and eerily accurate) copycat of an Ikea store was discovered in China—blue-and-yellow signage and all. Thus began 10-plus months of utter branding insanity, all culminating in the fact that the Swedish furnishings retailer now produces beer. (To be fair, most Ikea shoppers could use a beer, and apparently the lager isn't half bad.) Which begs the question: when is a furniture store oh, so much more? Here now, a trip down memory lane:
· A piece published in The Economist suggests Ikea's best-selling BILLY bookcase now primarily serves "ornaments, tchotchkes and the odd coffee-table tome—anything, that is, except books that are actually read." BILLY, of course, responds in a press statement, claims books aren't dead.
· A store in Sydney, Australia, tests out MANLAND, a "holding pen" for bored male shoppers. The "creche" is filled with video games, hot dogs, and pinball machines.
· A store in England hosts 100 people for a massive sleepover. No provocative negligees allowed.
· Ikea opens a temporary 54-square-meter apartment in a Paris Metro station; five people actually lived in it for five days.
· Video Interlude: Watch Tina Fey and James Marsden shop in an Ikea on an episode of 30 Rock. The idea of relationships being strained by the task of navigating an Ikea is later explored in an artsy Brooklyn play.
· Finally, at long last, Ikea releases video assembly guides.
· Ikea teams with Oregon-based design firm Ideabox to build and furnish whole houses. Insanity ensues.
· Ikea UK encourages people to snap pics of strangers sleeping and upload them to the brand's Facebook page—all for the sake of mattresses, folks.
· Renderings of Strand East, Ikea's 27-acre London Suburb that was announced last year, are released.
· The brand announces its foray into home electronics with the crazy-modern UPPLEVA TV system. New product, is immediately parodied by Conan O'Brien as "easy to assemble."
· Nuptials Interlude: a Maryland couple gets married in the College Park store where they had (and survived) their first date; store provides linens, chais, and meatballs.
· Ikea announces PS 2012, a line of 46 high-design, sustainably produced products that pay homage to the brand's history.
· Rental wire: Ikea Australia offers to reimburse customers for the space that the 22-by-20-cm Ikea catalog occupies in their homes.
· In honor of the Milan design fair, furnishes a Porta Potty and unleashes graffiti street around all over the city.
· One store in England devises plastic dummies—"crash test moggies and doggies"—to show customers how well mattresses will stand up to pets.
· Ikea's food packaging is entirely redesigned by Stockholm Design Lab. Canned fish never looked so chic!
· The brand furnishes and opens a temporary "VIP Lounge" in Charles de Gaulle airport, complete with nap areas and a playroom for kids.
· Ikea's new marketing campaign, designed to promote fabrics, imagines a crazy, dystopian "World Without Textiles."
· Ikea beer. Drink up.
· All Ikea coverage [Curbed National]