How IKEA uses architecture to trick you into buying stuff

by Charles Montgomery on

If you are like me, you dread trips to IKEA. And if you are like me, you make them anyway. And if you are like me, you do not find the table you came looking for, but you nevertheless leave with a bag full of crap you never knew you needed in the first place. Fridge magnets. Shoe organizers. Stackable boxes. All destined for your next garage sale. Well, don’t… Continue reading

The branded landscape: gorgeous!

by Charles Montgomery on

First, brands colonized the urban landscape. Now they have become the colours, the mountains, the trees that define our experience. The French animation collective, H5, captures the kaleidoscopic wonder of this branded future in their animation, Logorama. from The strange part of this story is just how right the hyper-branded world feels. It feels…like home. Continue reading

The rise and fall of great cities

by Charles Montgomery on

Bogota, Colombia, is one of those cities that is either making headlines for murder, kidnapping and chaos, or wildly optimistic and inventive urbanism. A decade ago, Bogota was on a high. The iconoclastic mayor, Antanas Mockus, was still sending clowns into the streets to tease citizens towards good behaviour. His predecessor, Enrique Peñalosa, had just finished a massive transformation of city streets in the name of equity and happiness. The… Continue reading

Building lessons from Kabul

by Charles Montgomery on

In Afghanistan I learned that the first question that institutional architects ask when looking at building materials is: “Will it stand up to a car-bomb blast?” The fear of bomb attacks – delivered by car, bicycle, or simply concealed inside a burka – has led international agencies to depend heavily on HESCO, a modular blast-wall behind the Canadian embassy. But in a country where unemployment is contributing to insecurity, building technology… Continue reading

Status urges and real estate

by Charles Montgomery on

They say it is still a great time to invest in real estate in the USA’s foreclosure-riddled suburbs. Your gut–and decades of conditioning–might be urging you to trade up to a super-sized and marked-down mansion. Economists Luis Rayo and Gary Becker explain the folly of this approach in this lovely equation: And I explain just what they are talking about, and why the big-house urge might doom us to dissatisfaction… Continue reading