The IKEA Challenge
The mystery of the S-wrench and Swedish directions: Assembling our IKEAfurniture (with video)
Picking out IKEA furniture is fun. Assembling it is not.
Or so the myth goes — a myth now debunked thanks to the S-wrench-wielding handy-people that are me and Stevie T. (You can call it an Alan wrench, but I'll disregard you.) With 18 pieces of furniture purchased, parceled and still-packaged in our soon-to-be CultureLounge, it was up to the two of us to start the dreaded assembly process.
We initially assumed our editors were joking when they said the job was on us, being HGTV devotees who assumed we designers would get to retreat to a lux trailer somewhere, but they were serious.
Who knew that having to completely makeover an odd-sized room in our new CultureMap offices and transform it into a hip CultureLounge in only 30 days — with the furniture provided by IKEA — would involve manual labor?
Some of us are visual learners. Others of us require textual instruction in addition to dumpy Swedes smiling their way through somewhat disproportionate diagrams. Still, despite much arguing over orientation, Steven's irksome insistence on shuffling instructional pages out of order, and our rather arbitrary decision that a certain symbol translated to "optional" in Swedish, we succeeded.
We managed, in a mere 171 minutes and 51 seconds, to assemble our dining/meeting table (with leaves!) and our tres chic Stockholm leather sofa. We were so impressed with ourselves — and the fact that we had no leftover pieces or do-overs — that we put together one of our precious side tables and a single dining chair just for kicks.
Then, we saw the predictions on the guessing the time contest held for free tickets ... Someone thought it would take us only 37 minutes to do the dining room table? (For the record, it took an hour and 48 minutes — we're great thinkers, not furniture wizards). The closest realist among CultureMap readers was Collier Chin who guessed two hours and 13 minutes and earned two tickets to this Monday's Chefs Under Fire Regional Competition. Way to underestimate us for the win, Collier.
The couch was much easier and brought a near exact winner. We polished that assembly off in 63 minutes and CultureMap reader Jennie Rexer guessed 62 minutes to secure a four-pack of tickets to Hairspray at the Hobby Center. It always make us feel good to hear about happy winners.
Sadly, our momentary euphoria wore off and fatigue set in — we were going to need help. Steven and I suggested hiring people (as we are wont to do) but it was decided, much the way your parents decide a road trip will bring the family closer than an express jet, that we should assemble the remaining furniture "together."
Each of our 14 staffers drew from a fish bowl filled with precisely 14 little pieces of paper representing the remaining pieces. It was
quite the happy coincidence fate.
Although we knew from experience that some items were decidedly more difficult to navigate than others (the sofa was, actually, by far the easiest feat), we collectively decided that it would be far more comedic, and thus story-worthy, to let the cards fall where they may. The sales team is Not. Happy.
First, the video on the great assembly:
Coming up Tuesday: See the fruits of the staff's labor and the entirety of our shopping list as the CultureMap family completes assembly with only visual cues, doo-dads and always one-too-many screws.