Ikea Designs Refugee Shelters


Ikea is known for showing its customers how to have great design in small spaces. Many of its stores feature small footprint rooms and apartments that are beautifully and inexpensively furnished. That’s great for a large portion of the world, but what about people who lack even basic necessities in housing and care?

Recently, Ikea has taken to the small space format to highlight the challenges faced by Syrians living in a 25 square meter room of cinder block walls, with few furnishings and possessions. Based on a real home in Damascus, the room tells the story of the difficulties faced by people living in a civil war zone.

Ikea’s flagship store in Norway built the exhibit to draw attention to the Syrian crisis. In the room are posters and tags that tell the story of a typical Syrian family, including their struggles around the lack of food, medicine, and clean water. The price tags serve as donation slips and are part of a fundraising effort with the Red Cross.

The installation ran for several weeks in October and was seen by more than 40,000 visitors weekly, raising 22 million euros for the Red Cross efforts in Syria. It was an effort by the Ikea Foundation, a separate for-profit enterprise that is part of the Ikea stores.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss social responsibility of businesses.
  2. Show the Ikea video: https://vimeo.com/190261411
  3. Discuss how important shelter is for all people in a crisis situation. Bring up the Web site for Better Shelter: http://www.bettershelter.org/
  4. Another video detailing shelters designed by Ikea: https://youtu.be/krBzZ2A57o4
  5. Have students work in teams to look up the social responsibility actions of some of their favorite brands. What are these companies doing? What more could be done?

Source:  Ad Week, Brandchannel.com, other news sources


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