Decoding Design

IKEA opens a cheery (temporary) airport lounge in France

Posting in Architecture

Swedish furniture retailer IKEA is hosting a lounge for "the many" at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris this summer. Colorful and welcoming, it's positioned to lure potential customers.

Frequent travelers often have favorite airport terminals. (I can go on and on how much I actually look forward to waiting to board a flight at the relatively new Terminal 2 in San Francisco International Airport, with its gourmet food offerings, sleek and immaculate modern seating, and nifty water-bottle filling stations). But usually the airport waiting experience has more of a purgatory feel than a heavenly one. Leave it to cheery Swedish furniture maker IKEA to attempt to improve it for the masses, via its signature simple, colorful design.

The company is hosting a temporary lounge in Terminal 3 of the Charles de Gaulle Airport, which serves Paris, France. The lounge opened last week (on July 13) and will be available to passengers of any airline through August 5. In the press release for the project, IKEA states that "waiting time in the boarding area is on average 1 hour and 43 minutes." So the furniture maker is positioning its lounge as using "its expertise in interior design to serve the economy class...showing its commitment of improving the everyday life for the many."

There are some parallels to typical private airline clubs, which can cost hundreds of dollars to join, such as a friendly greeter at the entrance, comfortable and clean chairs and tables, and TVs. But the IKEA lounge offers some comforts that even the most exclusive clubs don't. For instance, IKEA's lounge has a children's play area staffed with trained caregivers. The concept for the lounge was developed by IKEA France's event agency, ubi bene, along with KR Media, IKEA France's media agency, and JCDecaux Airport Paris.

Of course, judging from the photos from IKEA, the lounge also looks a lot like...an IKEA store. With its carefully curated faux rooms, charming color schemes, and and simple furniture forms, the lounge at Charles de Gaulle Airport offers passengers an opportunity to play house while away from home.

It's also obviously a brand-consistent, three-dimensional ad for IKEA. The location couldn't be better: international travelers who aren't headed for a pricey airline club, but instead would feel comfy placing their carry-on bag on, say, an inexpensive but stylish Lack coffee table as they wait for their flight. And, of course, they might just consider buying some of the same pieces when they arrive home, after trying them out in the discomfort of an airport.

Then again, IKEA also promotes the use of their furnishings in commercial and public settings. So airports and airline clubs could certainly be target future customers for IKEA, too.

Images: IKEA France

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IKEA redesigns the home entertainment system

IKEA begins urban planning project

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Reena Jana

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Reena Jana has written for the New York Times, Wired, Harvard Business Review online, Fast Company, Architectural Record, Artforum, Time Out New York, Harper's Bazaar, and GQ. Previously, she was the innovation department editor at BusinessWeek. She holds degrees from Columbia University and Barnard College. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure