It probably has escaped you but I recently had the honor of becoming one of the coordinators for the Hamburg Committee of the Junior Chamber Club of the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in the Federal Republic of Germany (JCC). Written out, this is the longest title I have so far held in my life. Together with two other coordinators, we arrange events and study visits for everyone under 36 that has a German-Swedish (business) connection.
Last weekend, we met at the world’s first inner-city IKEA in Altona for an exclusive tour with the store’s boss. After a breakfast together, the head of the Altona IKEA told us that he is considering changing his title to store guide because he had so many groups visiting. Many of them were apparently from other IKEAs and then some urban planners from Stockholm and then us. (As a regular citizen, you don’t get tours if you were hoping for that.)
During a two-hour-long walk through the building that has 7 floors, we got to see everything from the logistic department to the park deck on the roof. The inner-city-IKEA works with different concepts both in its exhibition set up and the transportation modes. You can get a free bike for transporting your things home and the check out is on the highest floor instead of the lowest. Everywhere you see bilingual Swedish-German things (“trevligt att träffas” – “varmrätter” – “lördagsgodis”) and IKEA is undeniably further pursuing the path of becoming a cultural and culinary embassy of Sweden. A comforting thought if you need afforable glögg!
We learned all kinds of things. Did you for example know that IKEA’s kitchen equipment actually works and they sometimes use it for show cooking? Have you ever heard that IKEA has an entire division in Sweden that deals with naming IKEA items and making sure that the name works on foreign markets and does not mean anything embarrassing or offensive? Did it ever occur to you that the books on display are in Swedish simply because that reduces the risk of theft because no one understands them anyway? See, all these things you learn when you join the JCC…!
The most breath-taking part of the study visit was though when we went onto the top park deck. You exit the elevator and suddenly all of Hamburg lies at your feet! “This is so much better than the sky bar”, I exclaimed. “Did you consider putting the restaurant up here?”, another one inquired. So next time I have guests and I want to show them the city, we’ll start right there – at IKEA.