Micro apartments. They're all the rage, mostly because they're all that the majority of metropolis-living millennials can actually afford. But the jury is still out on whether micro apartments are going to be the utopian cure to cities' housing shortages . . . or just another step toward a crowded Earth dystopia where we're all packed together like pink, gill-less krill.
My feelings on micro apartments after checking out Ikea's 2017 furniture catalog, which was released yesterday? Dystopia, all the way down.
The Swedish furniture giant—which has been predicting that millions more people will be living in micro apartments by 2020—has made smaller and smarter living the theme of its annual catalog. But even Ikea couldn't make living in a pallet-sized studio for half your salary look anything less than comically nightmarish, like outtakes left on the cutting-room floor from Woody Allen's Sleeper. Here is the eight most terrifying micro-apartment designs from the new catalog.
"It's strange that eating alone gets a bad rap, because it's something many of us really enjoy," asserts Ikea. So why not do it in style, on one of its Ingatorp expandable tables, as opposed to crouched over your bathroom sink, eating greasy fried chicken like some kind of micro-apartment-dwelling Mogwai? After all, Ikea says, "[this is] a place you you can share a meal with quiet and entertaining companions, like a magazine . . . or a favorite TV show." Because God knows you can't squeeze anything as tangible as a friend into the $4,000-a-month studio-cum-sarcophagus you rent.
In the 2017 catalog, Ikea spends a lot of time trying to convince people that not being able to fit a table into their apartment is all the rage. Here, after saying that a "meal with friends or family doesn't have to happen around a perfectly set table . . . [or] even include chairs," the company suggests eating your food off the floor like a dog . . . as long as it's from a 99¢ Oftast bowl, that is!
Remember the hot plate you weren't supposed to keep in your dorm room? Ikea has built a $170 kitchen around it. Seemingly aimed at the man-bunned micro-apartment dweller who would rather have a room full of cubbies for denim than a functional cooking space, there's nothing you can't cook here, as long as it comes from the recipe files of the original celebrity chef himself, Hector Boiardi. Everything's been thought of, from the spacious fridge with room enough to keep a ramekin of cold milk, to the ample cupboards, which can fit both a bottle of soy sauce and two packets of instant ramen . . . with room for a disposable set of chopsticks to spare!
"As many migrate to cities, smaller spaces have become the new dream home," asserts Ikea. And what a dream! An apartment literally taller than it is wide, with walls made of concrete blocks like a prison, only painted gray to be even more depressing. Note that the $599 Holmsund sleeper sofa, when fully extended, is literally the same width as the apartment; Ikea also touts a single chair hanging near the ceiling as "wall decor," because there isn't any space for it. Wacky! Nevertheless, Ikea insists this apartment leaves you "plenty of room for a refined, urban tea party with friends. Pinky fingers up!" And right into your guest's nostrils.
"Precious moments with our kids are the memories that stay with us," Ikea lyrically waxes. "But in the everyday, it can be hard to find time for those moments. So we came up with an unconventional fix." And trust me, your kids are going to love it! It's called: "Don't give your kids their own bedroom! Install a bunk bed in the living room instead!" Why would a child on the verge of pubescence need privacy anyway?
For the spacious micro apartment with a wall space to cram the kids into, Ikea recommends the $189 Flaxa twin bed frame and sideboard, which also operates as a half-hearted room divider. Because if your little ingrate kids wanted privacy so bad, one of them should have absorbed the other in the fucking womb.
"When a small, shared space stands in the way of getting a dream bathroom, it's time to think outside the box—literally," Ikea says. "With a bit of imagination, you can extend the bathroom beyond its walls to create an indulgent and roomy getting-ready space for all?" For example, by using a $39.99 Vittsjö table, and a $24.99 Råksog stool, as a vanity? After all, why shouldn't your bathroom just slop into your bedroom, like a sausage exploding from the end of its casing? And who says you can't put a toilet next to your bed, anyway? Not Ikea!
Here's a micro apartment for you baby boomers. This is the way Ikea describes it: "When the kids have grown up and moved out, it's a chance to reconnect—and reinvent how you spend time together." Because isn't that just how you envisioned your life with your partner after retirement? Sitting on a stack of drawers in front of $79 Tunholmen patio table, because you only own one $59 Janinge chair between the pair of you? In a make-shift dining nook located just inches from your couch, with a greasy paper takeout bag on the floor, no less? Still, what else can you expect? Considering you'll need to save at least $2.25 million each to retire in New York, on top of the roughly $200,000 it'll cost to get each of your kids through undergrad, you might as well retire into an apartment roughly the same size as the coffin you'll be buried in. You literally can't afford anything else.
Do you have a microapartment horror story? We want to hear about it! Email us: CoDTips@fastcompany.com.