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 blame yourself. Alan Penn, a professor of architectural computing at University College London, explains that 60% of the stuff the typical IKEA shopper carries away was not on his shopping list. In this lecture, below, Penn explains how IKEA pulls off this feat. The store employs the same floor layouts perfected by famed mall designer, Victor Gruen, half a century ago. By disorienting you, they gradually wear down your ability to discern what’s worth buying.