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24 FEBRUARY 2012

Adrift in a shopping maze: it's a successful no-exit strategy

"Alan Penn, director of the Virtual Reality Centre for the Built Environment at University College London, has come to a conclusion that Ikea stores are 'designed just like a maze'. In doing so he's given scholarly validation to a feeling that will have occurred to many shoppers as they blunder around the blue and yellow hangar looking for a new TV unit only to emerge with two candles, a wok and a bottle of lingonberry cordial.

Penn went on to suggest that it was Ikea's strategy to keep customers inside the store for the maximum time possible. They achieve this by setting a route round the store from which it's difficult to deviate. Taking the shortcuts (which are only there to conform with fire regulations) often leaves you adrift in a sea of lampshades.

The effect is to boost impulse purchases. See a coathanger, and you might buy 'because the layout is so confusing you know you won't be able to go back and get it later'."

(Ian Tucker, 30 January 2011, The Observer, Guardian News and Media Limited)



a sea of lampshades • adrift • Alan Penn • circulation • coathanger • cognitive map • confusing • customersdesigndirectional information • floor plan • IKEA • Ikea stores • impulse buy • impulse purchase • layout • maze • mental imagenavigationno escape • no-exit • organising spacesprogrammatic spaceroutesensemakingsequence of spacesshopping experiencespatial designspatial literacyspatial narrative • spatial sequence • store • store designtrappedUniversity College Londonuser experience design (UX) • Virtual Reality Centre for the Built Environment • wayfindingyou are here


Simon Perkins

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