New East Digital Archive

My flat-pack life: how I spent 3 weeks living in IKEA

Having always dreamt of having a room of her own, this photographer decided to camp out in IKEA

3 February 2018

Have you ever, whilst browsing in Ikea, taken off your shoes, put on a face mask and dressing gown, then casually slipped into bed? Those weekend out-of-town trips to the royal blue warehouse are familiar to all of us: from the highs, like buying your first furniture, to the lows, like coming home and realising you have no idea how to put it together. For Russian photographer known by the pseudonym Sashadavai, the endless showroom is almost a second home. Based on these hilarious self-portraits of the photographer drinking tea and doing her laundry in the famous Swedish retailer, she has no objection treating it as such. These photos were taken in IKEA stores in proximity to London, where Sasha currently lives: in Neasden, Tottenham Hale and Croyden. What inspired the project, however, was not just a love for affordable flat-packed furniture, but a search for something greater.

She recalls: “Since I was a child my parents could not afford for me to have my own bedroom. Therefore I never had the freedom to choose my own space and the way I wanted to decorate it. I remember the first time I went to IKEA. I was seven and that changed my life. When they built an IKEA in Yekaterinburg I used to take the bus there every weekend with my friend just to hang out and imagine the day I would have my own room.”

“Arriving in the UK I realised that IKEA is perceived very negatively in this country, as a mass furniture retailer selling cheap furniture. In April 2017, I decided to live in IKEAs across London. I would bring my backpack, clothes and a medium-format camera, and spend around three to four hours in the store at a time over three weeks. Security barely noticed and, now, when I show people the photos most of them don’t even realise it’s IKEA until I point out the tags.” Imagine a life of clean sheets and Swedish meatballs for breakfast, and suddenly IKEA sounds like the perfect home.

Text: Liza Premiyak
Image: Sashadavai