Why is there such a fuss over IKEA Hyderabad?

Vishwaveer Singh of Scroll walks us through the much hyped IKEA store in Hyderabad:

The IKEA store launched on August 9 and is a culmination of a journey that started more than six years ago. It was the brainchild of Telangana’s Special Chief Secretary (Industries) at the time, Pradeep Chandra, who wooed the Swedish retail giant, convincing them to choose Hyderabad as the launch city over several others that were in the race, including Bengaluru, Mumbai and New Delhi. While IKEA’s Global CEO Jesper Brodin said, at the launch press conference, that they have “spades in the ground in many other locations across the country,” the store’s opening in Hyderabad has been a victory for the state government, who all but laid out the red carpet. Land allotments and permissions were expedited and an entire metro station’s plan was changed, so it would eventually get constructed opposite the store.

Why all the brouhaha for a furniture brand? The answer becomes evident after a walk through the store. On the first floor there is a 1,000-seater restaurant, among the largest in India, serving a mix of Swedish and Indian cuisine. IKEA’s famous Swedish Meatballs find their way to the menu (in a chicken avatar, keeping in mind cultural sensibilities), while the smoked salmon tastes like it was fished but a few moments ago from a fjord in Sweden. There are also an impressive array of desserts and of course, Hyderabadi biryani (for Rs 99), samosas and dal makhani.

Next to the restaurant is the entrance to the labyrinth that houses IKEA’s 47 show apartments. Ranging in size from small and medium to large, each space had been fitted with its own design aesthetic. Products are displayed within the setting of a living room, bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, children’s nursery, a library doubling up as a study, artworks hang on the wall, rugs sit perfectly positioned on the floor. It’s not hard to sit in one of the many armchairs and be transported to a Los Angeles loft or an apartment in New York’s meatpacking district.

There are Indian touches aplenty. IKEA’s design teams visited more than 1,000 homes around the country across various income groups, to get a sense and feel of the cultural sensibilities and needs. They then curated the merchandise for the store, along with the themes and designs for the show apartments, which include pictures of Indian monuments, such as the Taj Mahal, hanging beside Beatles posters and little touches like laundry in an apartment balcony. There are also several innovative elements: intelligent storage options that hide away into furniture that could quite possibly surprise an Indian consumer, who is otherwise used to a very different school of furniture design.

There was almost a stampede at the launch.

Till they open at other places, this will become a place to visit in Hyderabad…


One Response to “Why is there such a fuss over IKEA Hyderabad?”

  1. Mihir Says:

    Did they borrow something from Walmart? Get Indians for food, and perhaps they buy some furniture on the way out.

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