With the 27-acre London micro-community of Strand East underway, plus another development planned for Hamburg, Germany, is Ikea now in the business of franchising cities? Thank the Smithsonian blog Design Decoded for raising this slightly terrifying proposition: a future of Ikea-run cities might follow the American model of New Urbanism, in which carefully planned, if not idyllic, "dense, walkable towns" will "be closely controlled by its parent company [...] to ensure that the neighborhood stays as lively and well-trafficked as an IKEA showroom." Additionally, the theory goes, Ikea might "manage regular events like farmers markets and run picturesque amenities like flower stalls and coffee carts."
But let's not get ahead of ourselves. As far as Strand East goes, developer LandProp Services (the real estate arm of Ikea's parent company, Inter Ikea) will stock it with 500,000 square feet of commercial space, a hotel, and rental-only housing—"implying that residents aren't likely to make any drastic changes to their property"—that won't, in fact, be furnished with Ikea products. More about lifestyle and the "tenets of Ikea furnishings" than, say, actual BILLY bookcases, Strand East will promote "the Ikea philosophy," says a Landprop rep. "We won't wat to produce for the rich or the super-rich; we want to produce for the families, for the people." To boot: there's no Ikea store in sight.
· Here's a Look at Strand East, Ikea's 27-Acre London Suburb [Curbed National]
· World-Dominating Ikea Now Makes Fully Furnished Houses [Curbed National]
· Franchising Neighborhoods: Can Ikea Sell Urban Design? [Smithsonian]