Just for illustrative purposes: this is a similar one from Villeroy & Boch. I think in England it's called a farmhouse sink.
I went there, they had the sink I want and even a fitting floor unit. They even have a kitchen that would complement the style and period of the house and the kitchen is even affordable and of good quality. A different question is what will remain of the bargain once we have paid somebody for assembling the units, because I am past the age where I joyfully assembled yards and yards of BILLY bookcases. However, I put that firmly in some remote corner of my memory because I really like that kitchen. IKEA is like that.
There are so many good things, and the fact that I am reminded every second minute of my lengthy stay there why I hate that damn place, turns that perversely into something irritating. Oh, how much would I like to show them the finger and stay away for ever, but alas, I can't afford it. The ultimate humiliation!
There are so many things that make IKEA a pain in the proverbial. I don't mind so much the "Something for Everyone" approach and I remember fondly that my husband and I got there 30 years ago lots of nice things for our first household, specifically a solid big pine kitchen table, something that wasn't on the stuffy German furniture shops' map then, so IKEA's "otherness" was more of an attraction than the fact that their furniture was reasonably priced. Decades later, IKEA has safely arrived in the mainstream (or has the mainstream arrived at IKEA?) and "Something for Everyone" has been firmly replaced by "Everything for Everyone". IKEA evokes an image of one megalomaniac seller who offers no choice or difference between the up- and the downmarket, styles or lifestyles, and the resulting taste-hotchpotch is scary. IKEA is the shop for the ultimately insecure. Buy here and no one will ever accuse you of having bad taste. It's all not ugly and it's all the same and even the things some may DO consider ugly, as I do, are, so to say ideologically, beautified by labelling them "retro". I do not think that, for example, the popular Sixties/Seventies style with its geometric patterns and nondescript, characterless colour schemes (mostly white with one or two not-quite-primary colours or catsick yellow and dogturd brown) hasn't got a single redeeming quality, yet the majority of the fabrics offered are designed that way.
How this all-inclusive taste brew is concocted is no secret. The ikea.com website reveals:
At IKEA we design the price tag first and then develop the product to suit that price.A prescription for staunch individualism if I have ever seen one.
All this is mirrored by the fact that everybody is addressed by Big Brother IKEA in the countless messages, posters and placards as "Du" and now, I think, a brief linguistic digression is in order:
English, with its one and only "you" for everyone, familiar or strange, stands alone here. All the other Indo-European languages, including German, have both, a formal "you" and a familiar "you." The familiar "thou" and its "thee," "thine," and "thy" derivations died out in English long ago. However, the German familiar address "du" is related to the archaic English "thou." This becomes more clear, if one remembers the so-called "d<-->t/th shift" between German and English, which becomes apparent in many word pairs, for example Leder/leather, Feder/feather, tief/deep, tot/dead or rot/red.I am amazed at myself just HOW much that irritates me.
But the difference doesn't end at a grammatical rule: the cultural gap is deep and wide. Anglophones are not used to making the distinction between the familiar and formal you and the "first name" situation doesn't even begin to come close to it. Germans are very much aware of it and can become very uncomfortable when the Du/Sie rules are broken. They tend to keep their distance longer with acquaintances than the English do, for example, colleagues who have worked together for years may very well go on addressing each other as "Sie". It does not mean they are unfriendly, but they are maintaining the important German division between friends and acquaintances. Using the "Du" without being invited can be offensive, and indeed it even may be considered legally as a verbal slander in certain situations. Using the "Sie" can be even more offensive, although in a more subtle way and without any legal consequences.
As my egalitarian inclinations have always been rather underdeveloped and as I am, additionally, mildly claustrophobic, rubbing shoulders with the masses has always limited my enthusiasm for otherwise pleasurable exploits. However, I am pleased at the fact that, here, a Saturday night is not nearly as crowded as it would be in an IKEA store back home in the West, so I can at least do my figures in a quiet corner of the almost empty restaurant. (As an aside: I seem to remember that the IKEA restaurants used to offer excellent snacks. Now the grub is -- just -- edible. Whether that is a reflection on how long I haven't been to one or a manifestation of the East vs. West gap, I don't know.)
One of the good things is that the ikea.de website just offers to sell furniture and stuff and spares us the embarrassing do-gooder rhetoric ikea.com indulges:
Low prices are the cornerstone of the IKEA vision, business idea and concept. The basic thinking behind all IKEA products is that low prices make well-designed, functional home furnishings available to everyone. After all, our vision is to create a better everyday life for the many people.As it is so amazingly often the case with do-gooder blah blah, this rhetoric, too, stands on clay feet.
We are constantly trying to do everything a little better, a little simpler, more efficiently and always cost-effectively. All IKEA units play an important part in creating our low prices which we are then able to offer our customers.
As does mine. IKEA will go on beating that egalitarian old nag they are riding to death and corrupting the social and linguistic awareness of the Germans in the process, and I -- I will surely buy that kitchen because there is no satisfactory alternative.