Wednesday, May 15, 2013
It used to be fun to go to my local IKEA and just look around and eat or have a latte, but the cafe' where you could get a very good latte has been removed. At the restaurant where the food used to quite good, there is no longer the same variety and the quality is down. This is no doubt a way to cut costs. But the cost-cutting has gone too far when you no longer feel inspired to go there. Self-defeating certainly for IKEA if people do not turn up.
|No more hand-made latte at my local IKEA.|
IKEA introduced customers to a self-check system claiming that would be faster, but since they have reduced check out personnel generally, this is no longer a faster way. You still have to wait a very long time sometimes. Last month, a customer who desperately looked for someone to ask something, asked two women who loaded plastic shopping bags if they could help. "We do not work here" they said. By this they meant, that they worked for a subcontractor to load the bags and knew no more than that. Sure, this is a way of saving money for IKEA, but what impression does it give to customers?
Another ways IKEA cuts costs is to move production of items like napkins to a country that produces them in the cheapest possible way. That is how IKEA keep prices low and we benefit from it. Napkins and candles, that is what people often load up on at IKEA, and so do I. But the six packages of white napkins I bought two months ago emitted a sharp chemical smell. And it did not go away after the package had been opened. I looked at the country of manufacturing and noted that they were no longer made in Sweden. I wondered why no one had discovered that the napkins had a chemical smell ? Was their quality control at fault? Maybe this was a glitch, but what I discovered when I complained about this, was not very nice.
When I visited the kitchen department at IKEA, I told two young women who worked there about it and they quickly told me that it was no use telling them, they had no influence with the company as what they said did not matter much. It was much better to make the complaint in a computer on the floor. This is a sad state of affairs, if people working at IKEA feel that way and cannot get their voices heard. I decided to write to IKEA via their "contact" on their website. I got an immediate response on April 18, confirming receipt of the complaint and that they would respond no later that April 24 at 18.30 (6 PM). That seemed like a long time but hoped for an early reply.
On April 24 at !8.29, I got an email saying that their handling of claims took longer than usual and that they would when they had "dealt with my case". Oh, I thought, IKEA is contacting the factory and investigating the matter so they can give me a good reply with an explanation why the napkins had a strong smell of chemicals. That is maybe better than just offering compensation.
The days went and i heard nothing. On May, 10 I finally heard from IKEA again. This was 22 days later, more than three weeks! I was eager to hear what their investigation had resulted in. With such a delay I expected an interesting response.
What had they done? Nothing.
Did they apologize for the 22 day delay in responding? No.
Did they offer any compensation for the smelly napkins? No.
Had they investigated my problem No.
So what did they say?
They wondered if I still had the wrappers. They wanted a code of the wrapper indicating the time of production. That question could of course have been asked 22 days ago.
When i pointed out the lack of an apology for the three week delay and no offer of compensation, they offered me compensation for the price of four packages of napkins instead of the six I had bought. I suppose that saved them the value of two packages. Still cost-cutting, apparently. Considering the extremely bad handling of the complaint, and that they had a chance of making a larger gesture, they missed out big. Customer service at its absolute worst!
I still have a warm place in my heart for IKEA, but i do not like what I have experienced lately. They are on probation now. The napkin story and its many phases may seem small but raise a serious question about customer service. IKEA and its misplaced cost-cutting policies are not serving IKEA or it's customers well.
Sunday, May 5, 2013
Monday, April 29, 2013
Saro Church outside Gothenburg, is a very a small wooden church built in 1922. The wealthy residents of Saro wanted a church nearer to where they lived and built thee church from private funds. The architect, Allan Berglund was a local resident of Saro.
It is built in a national romantic and neoclassical style with a myriad of almost medieval ornaments (the painter is Brocke Blückert) in earthy colors.
It is a small and wonderfully intimate church situated up on a rock with many granite steps leading up to it.
Many people from Gothenburg visit Saro to go for long walks along the rocky water front, but very few have ever seen the inside of this church. Picture credit for the image above.
|The exterior style is neoclassical|
The interior design is in the National Romantic style with a myriad of almost medieval ornaments (the painter is Brocke Blückert) in earthy colors.
Saturday, February 9, 2013
When nature calls at either door
do not intend to bluff her
but haste away
night or day
or health is sure to suffer.
The old saying puts an emphasis on speed, but inventive Swedes don't want you to hurry quite so fast.
The company Jernhusen, that manages Swedish railway stations, have long been fed up with vandalized coin-operated toilets. They have introduced new locks on public toilets that slow you down considerably, or don't let you in at all. In order to get into the toilet, you have to pay via your mobile phone. You pay by sending a (SMS) text-message which debits your phone bill and then, click, the toilet door opens for you.
But what if you do not have a mobile phone, and what if you cannot read the instructions, or what if your battery is low or out? Or if you just can't wait another second? Imagining having the runnies, what better thing could you wish for than having to read the instructions on the toilet door and fiddle with your phone. And wait for the door to open up. Then good luck to you! Be sure to have a very strong sphincter muscle. Or health is sure to suffer.
Maybe this idiotic and dangerous system opens up new business opportunities reminiscent of what existed in London around 1700 when there were no sewers and there were entrepreneurs such as the "human lavatory" who provided toilet services for the well-to-do. A man with a big cape and a bucket would offer you to sit on the bucket (in the street) and do your business in the street whilst covered with his cape. Charming!
(From LIVES AND TIMES OF THE GREAT COMPOSERS by Michael Steen.)
|Count yourself lucky to find a coin operated toilet.|
Monday, January 28, 2013
|As a designer, one can have some fun creating an image that fits all the way around a mug. Here Donovan O'Malley's illustration from Nathanael West's Novel The Dream Life of Balso Snell, has been used four times, creating an unexpected and interesting effect.|
|Here is the mug, with only part of the design showing.|
The mug can be bought here.
|"The Performers", an illustration by Donovan O'Malley, has been used twice (the image mirrored) to wrap around the mug.|
|Here is the mug, with only part of the design showing.|
The mug can be bought here.
Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Saturday, December 29, 2012
The elegant Swedish design guru Frida Ramstedt is all for black.(See her comment at the bottom of this piece)
This year, Frida converted the traditionally red electric Christmas candelabra into black.
So what is the fascination with black and white? I like strong color and patterns as seen in these (mine) Pintarest collections here and here.
But there is something about the black and white theme in textiles and art that is dramatically appealing to us. We think that black and white film (Film Noir) is more dramatic than color film. The drawings by Donovan O'Malley below for example, could never have been striking in the same way, had they been in color. And these black and white woodblocks are appealing for the same reason.
Donovan O'Malley has used the black and white expression masterfully in his nine illustrations of the American writer, Nathanael West's novels
This illustration by Donovan O'Malley, depicts a scene from Nathanael West's novel, "The Dream Life of Balso Snell"
|Donovan O'Malley has used the black and white expression masterfully in his nine illustrations of the American writer, Nathanael West's novels. This illustration Mrs. Shrike and Miss Lonelyearts in the novel "Miss Lonelyhearts" by Nathanael West. See all nine illustrations.|
For Frida of Trendenser and all others who love black and white designs, there is now a dedicated Pintarest board in black and white for you!
|Black and White Photography is generally considered "more serious" and "dramatic" than color. |
In one "Pinterest" board, a woman's fondness for black and white photos has resulted in her collecting over 6.000 images. Some effort!
The White Knight!
"If you want my honest opinion-- I think we like black and white because it is so safe -- it's hard to make a mistake. Most products launched on the market these days come in one black and one white version which are considerably more long lasting than the colored ones (which we tire of a lot sooner). This is probably one reason why the Scandinavian style so often is perceived as black and white. Who is bold enough to buy an Egg chair for ten thousand dollars in bright blue? Very few. For this very reason, i think that people who invest in such expensive furniture are afraid choose a white, or a black or possibly one in brown leather -- the investment must stand the test of time and keep its resale value. To sum it up, it is not so much a matter of ones artistic sense (that we tend to choose black and white) but rather more a matter of cowardice."
In August last year, Frida reported on her blog from design fair in Stockholm (Formex) and she noted how many designers had been influenced by African patterns. So finally some color you might think? No, African patterns yes, but mainly in dark colors, black and brown with white.
When Swedish designers get inspired by Australian Aboriginal art, they stay away from the fantastic colors and stick to black and white.
Picture from Rorstrand and trendenser.se
This folk art "Dala horse" is usually painted in bright colors, but here it is in a black and white version. From Vitra.se
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Sunday, December 2, 2012
Göteborgs Remfabrik (Gothenburg Belting Works) is a small weaving mill equipped wit specialised looms for the production of heavy woven belting for industrial purposes such as power transmission and conveyance.The mill was established in 1891, but the present three-storey building dates from 1900 The texts come from here,
|There are 35 looms, almost all of which were supplied by Robert Hall & Sons, Bury, England.|
|In 1914 electricity displaced steam power, and since then the whole environment remains largely unchanged. This is what makes the mill so interesting.|
Saturday, December 1, 2012
|Liseberg amusement park is owned by the city of Gothenburg and all the proftis are put back into the park. This year's medieval village was very nice indeed.|
Here you can buy material and patterns for historical costumesHave a look at this slideshow from a previous Christmas.
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
|The shops are full of them.|
Here is one manufacturers page with a lot of different models.
"Advent is the beginning of the ecclesiastical year, and it also marks the start of Christmas festivities in Sweden. More people visit Swedish churches on the first Sunday of Advent than any other time of year; they come to sing the well-known Yuletide hymns. This first Sunday is also the day communities decorate their streets and squares with wreaths, garlands, lights and Christmas trees. At home, Swedes light one candle on each of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas, in special four-pronged candelabra.
Another way of counting the days until Christmas is the Advent calendar, a card with "windows" that you open, one by one, for each passing day until Christmas Eve. These calendars, which were introduced as late as the 1930s, have become increasingly popular. Swedish radio and television broadcast daily Advent programs for children based on a specially published calendar.
|During Advent many people hang luminous stars of paper, straw or perforated metal in their windows. Introduced from Germany around 1910, these stars have become a central feature of Swedish Advent celebrations."|
|Source: "Traditional Festivities in Sweden"; Author: Ingemar Liman; Published by: The Swedish Institute, ISBN 91-520-0113-X|