I spotted an interesting posting today on Treehugger, with a very punitive title IKEA Confuses Shoppers, Encourages Clutter, and Exploits Workers (although as I understand the original posting was made by PSFK (with somewhat more neutral Ikea’s Maze-Like Layout Results In Huge Amount Of Impulse Buying.
But both of them are based on the video of the lecture by Alan Penn, professor of architecture from the University College London. It’s quite long (by YouTube standards, that is – bit less than 40 min), but it’s full of interesting stuff. Alan talks about a few studies of retail environments (both urban and building scale), and introduces a set of inserting constructs to evaluate the quality of spaces (and human behavior inside them). He then talks specifically (and pretty critically – although not that judgmentally as Treehugger did) about Ikea’s halls, their structure.
I’d love to get these slides one day; he uses a lot of interesting maps and charts, but they are too small to really read and understand; there is very good paper by him at the site of U Delft (The complexity of the elementary interface: Shopping space) that to large degree repeats his talk (or rather his talk repeats the paper). Again, worth reading; for me the was particularly interesting, because at some point he deviates from the mail line and talks about personal meaning of things and places, and about our strategies of identity representations – all the things we explored in MIME projects some while ago (MIME as Multiple Intimate Media Environments). Perhaps I need to send this link to him.
PS: To keep everything in one place – there is very interesting article that compares retails spaces of IKEA and Apple stores from the point of view of Informational Architecture – Apple, IKEA and Their Integrated Architecture