A restaurant that is not only decorated exclusively in Ikea furniture but is also designed to imitate the maze-like warrens and soul-sucking blandness of an Ikea showroom sounds like a waking nightmare. I don’t care that you sell Swedish meatballs.
Luckily, the temporary IkHa restaurant in the Hague is less of an homage to Ikea than an homage to that great big middle finger to Ikea, the Ikea hack. Designers Annika Syrjämäki and Rosa Dalle Vedove of Oatmeal Studio transformed Ikea shelves, table tops, lamps, and other cheap goodies into a fully functioning, if not especially pretty, dining room. After filling out ordering forms with pencils and paper, diners have to navigate a labyrinth of repurposed bookshelves to find a table (or, more precisely, a "furniture construction," as the designers call their creations). There, wait staff delivers the food (on trays, of course), while guests are free to design their own table setting: a nearby wall offers a selection of wallpapers that can be measured and snipped to make ad-hoc tablecloths and placemats.
Syrjämäki and Vedove designed IkHa because they wanted to "extend this concept" of Ikea hacking, which is so popular nowadays, it has a website of its own. Not to split hairs or anything, but if they really wanted to be accurate here, wouldn’t they equip the place with chainsaws or something—let people "customize" their own dinner tables? Or at least set some wine racks on fire?
Let’s give them credit for this: They managed to hack the meatballs. The recipe is a "modernized" version of classic Swedish meatballs, Syrjämäki tells us, and the balls themselves are flat. "The hacked meatballs are a bit of a joke," Syrjämäki says. "In Dutch, it’s a word play. Meatballs are called ‘gehakt ballen’ which literally means ‘hacked balls.’"
The IkHa restaurant is open until July 30 in the Filmhuis/Den Haag theater in The Hague. After that, it’ll be available to rent for festivals, restaurants, and shops, Syrjämäki says.
[Images courtesy of Oatmeal Studio]