January 14th, 2009
Ikea Builds Oval Office in Busy Washington Train Station
By Brian Quinton
To celebrate the upcoming inauguration of President-elect Obama on Tuesday, Swedish-born home retailer Ikea has built its own version of the Oval Office in a busy Washington, DC, train station using Ikea merchandise in place of the national heirlooms the new incumbent will have at his elbow.
Through this Wednesday, rail commuters passing through Union Station will be able to see what Ikea terms a “modern rendition of the iconic round room” and to reflect on the symbolism inherent in both American heritage and assembly-required furniture.
“President-elect Obama’s notion of change and his commitment to fiscal responsibility match the Ikea philosophy of practical and affordable home furnishings for all,” a company release said.
Ikea will also offer to redesign and furnish without charge any room in the White House that the new first family would like to change, using its existing inventory and design teams.
Visitors to the live installation will be able to sit in Ikea’s version of Obama’s desk chair—perhaps a Presidential Markus, a Kirsten or even a Smile. They will also be able to inscribe their welcome wishes to the Obama family into a guest book that will eventually be delivered to the White House.
Starting on Jan. 16, ordinary Americans will also be able to design their own Ikea-based Oval Office—or any shaped office for their own homes and apartments—by using a drag-and-drop design tool featured. Visitors who register at the site will be entered in a contest to win a $1,500 gift card to the home-furnishings chain.
In other events surrounding the live activation, a “mock motorcade” consisting of a limo and two Chevy Suburbans will tour around pre-inaugural Washington on Thursday and Friday, with furniture strapped to their roofs to accommodate an incoming chief executive, should he choose to ride.
Local buses, trains and outdoor ads will also promote the Ikea initiative tag-line: “Embrace Change ’09.”
Ikea is the latest in a number of brands that have attached themselves to the growing Inaugural excitement. Pepsi has launched a Web site that gives visitors the chance to “refresh America” by uploading videos of advice to the incoming Mr. Obama.