Swedish Furniture Giant IKEA Has Conquered Living Rooms
The Swedish furniture giant has conquered living rooms, bedrooms, and bathrooms — but can it hang on to the future of the home?
BjörnBjörn Block hurries out of the Ikea Museum and heads toward the company’s headquarters. His stride is surprisingly quick — faster than mine, considering I’ve just scarfed down a substantial plate of meatballs and lingonberries at an upscale version of the company’s blue box cafeteria.
At 45, Block vibrates with the energy of a man half his age. He cuts a frantic figure against the mélange of asphalt, dirt, and gravel paths that crisscross the sprawling Ikea campus. I tell him he walks very fast.
“I hear that all the time,” Block responds without slowing, even as I stop to admire a 10-foot-tall monument to the Ikea Allen wrench.
And his name. What could be more Swedish than Björn and more fundamental to building something than a block? It’s a good thing because the world’s largest furniture retailer is building its home of the future around him.
Block earned a degree in industrial design (with a furniture minor) in Australia and did a stint in Colorado teaching Americans how to snowboard. Now, he is the personal embodiment of Ikea’s transformation from a plodding analog maker of furniture into a fast-moving digital company. He’s in charge of Ikea’s Home Smart business, which he’s been building on a project-by-project basis ever since joining the company seven years ago.