Swedish furniture purveyor IKEA is usually synonymous with picture-perfect homes filled with flat-pack designs. At its flagship store in Slependen, Norway, however, a showroom space—where the best model interiors are usually on display—is instead showcasing a dwelling straight from Syria.
Working with the Norwegian Red Cross foundation, IKEA has reproduced a war-torn Syrian house. Called 25m^2 Syria, the installation features bare concrete masonry units and a space bereft of any notable furnishings, let alone any from the likes of IKEA. (For those wondering, 25 square meters equates to 269 square feet). 25m^2 is based on a real-life house on the outskirts of Damascus, the capital of the war-torn state. The apartment in Syria belongs to a woman named Rana and her family of nine, of whom pictures can be found on the walls inside.
Despite its jarring effect in the store, some of IKEA brand identity can be found inside 25m^2. Typical IKEA tags that usually display prices and product information here tell stories of Rana and her family. They shed light on the Syrian way of life and the daily struggles many Syrians endure such as food and medication shortages and lack of access to clean water.
The concept was initially brought to life by Norwegian advertising agency POL. Through the installation, the company hopes to raise money for “TV-Aksjonen,” an effort with the Norwegian Red Cross to collect donations to aid those living in war zones. An explicit plea for donations is also written on the walls of the mock-Syrian space.
In a statement POL said:
It was important to get the public involved, and to really understand where the help was going. So the decision to build a replica of a Syrian home at IKEA was made. IKEA’s vision is ‘to create a better everyday life for the may people’. So this partnership was both natural, giving and especially relevant for the cause.