Ubiquitous "nice enough" furniture and lifestyles accessories company Ikea has announced that the next step in its plans for total global domination is no, not a better instructional manual or easier-to-assemble drawers, but rather a chain of budget design hotels and in the future, student dorms. "The hotels will not use the Ikea name and will not be run by the Swedish company but by an established hotel operator, according to an executive familiar with the plans," reads a The Financial Times' Richard Milne (here via CNN) reports.
Milne explains that the Swedish company going to open at least 100 budget design hotels, the first planned for Germany. Other than trying to capitalize on the trend of affordable boutique accommodations (see, aLoft, from Starwood Hotels, for instance) there's something almost symbolic here about the fleeting nature of hotel stays that meshes well with a company that made its fortune selling the ephemeral. "The ease of self-invention that IKEA enables is liberating, but it can be sad to able to make a life, or to dispose of it so cheaply," The New Yorker's Lauren Collins wrote in a feature on the company last October. As FT notes: "Ikea is also considering building student residences across the continent as it looks for ways to put its cash into long-term businesses in an attempt to earn a good return." And, no, the irony (or savvy business plan) of Ikea, where college students flock and fresh graduates furnish their humble dwellings, building dorms isn't lost on us either.