How IKEA Designs Stores to Trick People Into Buying More

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The Swedish chain is about salesmanship as much as affordable style, thanks to its confusing, maze-like, consumption-inducing layout

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While Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel make shopping at IKEA look like bundles of fun, for The Wall Street Journal's Christopher Shae, a trip to the Swedish furniture store is stressful. "I wind up passing the same mock studio apartment half a dozen times, blood pressure rising with each new sighting," he explains. Well, Shae has discovered that IKEA is actually trying to piss him off, designing its stores with confusing layouts so customers get lost and buy more:

This confusion is carefully planned and orchestrated by Ikea, explained Alan Penn, a professor of architectural computing at University College London, in a recent lecture, in which he makes use of some very cool maps and digitized models of customer flow. One result of Ikea's rat-maze design: 60% of the things people buy there were not on their original shopping list.

The company also pulls off a rather difficult balancing act: "There are a lot of people who go there and don't enjoy it, but still seem to keep going back," Penn says.

Here's the full video of Penn's lecture:



Read the full story at The Wall Street Journal's Ideas Market blog.

Image: Toby Melville/Reuters

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Rebecca Greenfield is a writer based in Brooklyn. She was formerly on staff at The Atlantic Wire.

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