Lil' BILLY rides the T-bana

Today I took Lil' BILLY out for a test run. He rode the T-bana to Zinkensdamm and then rolled with me to Iaspis to have tea with Jonatan Engqvist. We talked about the BILLY project and the artists and researchers that Johan and I brought in for the course. I left without taking a single photograph which is odd since i've been photographing everything including my food all trip long. I also had to return my Key to UGLYCUTE today. Well here are some travel shots of Lil' Billy riding the T-Bana to Slussen.


"producing a solid cast of where the space within a
container would be..." - Rachel Whiteread - Untitled bookcase

Las Vegas Studio

I accidentally found a text :Hilar Stadler and Martino Stierli, eds., Las Vegas Studio Images from the Archives of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown - haven't read it yet but it seems to be a reaction to Learning from Las Vegas book (rereading and manipulating photos). Not sure if its useful.

If interested, you can download it here:


Temple Grandin

The work of Temple Grandin as referenced in my Virgins guide to Ikea. Temple's revolutionary insights have changed the way cattle are handled at meat factories, farms and marts. Reducing stress on animals the designs induce docility and hence the pliability of animals. Similiarity with the Kungens Kurva store are notable - especially in the movement to single file chutes from wide lanes. Her work can be explored further on the always excellent www.ted.com and and also in a recent movie starring Claire Danes.

Tools of Tradecraft: More Spy Gear From the CIA, Others | Threat Level

More kits from the CIA and KGB, via wired.com


A Virgins Guide to Ikea

A Virgins Guide to Ikea

As an impoverished wannabe spartan eschewing the odious collection of 'stuff' and with an 'ah sure this will do' attitude Ikea has never entered high on list of priorities, never made it to a mid-life bucket list and the Ikea evangelists entreaties have largely fallen on deaf ears, blinkered eyes, upturned nose and perhaps more importantly hands pulled out of empty pockets a la Charlie Chaplin in tramp mode. This assignment had changed that. I had John and Johan's money for a start. Accompanying me was Sille, a Danish native, very accustomed to the the way of Ikea and if I were to continue my 'virgin' simile I would have to call her a very bad name indeed.


Personal bookcase inventory

After completing our group project, I feel that I am ready to deal with my own bookcases...

The truth is: I don't live with Billy but I live with books, a lot of them. In my room, there are two bookshelves: one is for work (anthropology-related literature), the other is for pleasure. I decide to talk about my bookshelf for pleasure.

How Top Chefs Fly with Their Knives : The New Yorker

Here is an article about a custom bag/kit for chefs to transport their Knives.


#2 interview- "The curve of smile"

I found my second interviewee on their blog through the internet while I was searching for the picture of Billy bookshelf. Their story immediately caught my eye, after contacted with her and got some more information about their bookshelf, I decided to write about their tricky negotiation with Ikea as my assignment.
p.s. All the pictures and videos are cited from their blog.


Oda's Billy

This Billy is located in an apartement in Kungsholmen, where my Norwegian friend Oda lives. This low-slung Billy has two, quite separate, uses. On top, it is decorative and presentational, while the interior more has the character of storage. The intention was for all three doors to be in glass, but since IKEA only had two glass doors at the time of purchase one became a solid one.


Group Project


Spatializing and Personalizing Billy


The project sets out to use the Billy Bookcase as a site where interactions between the space and the individual are played out. In other words, we would like use this project to illustrate what the space does to the individual as well as what the individual does to the space.

Project members

Annika, Darcy, Dasha, Som and Yi-Ying

Description of the project

Our idea is to imagine the Billy bookcase both as a space and as a person. What we will do is to create three distinctive layers out of two Billy bookcases. The middle layer will symbolize the private sphere whereas the remaining two layers the public sphere. In order to demonstrate the fluidity of the boundary between the private and the public, we want to take away the back of the bookcases so there is no distinction between the front and the back. We would also like to mobilize the bookcases by adding wheels to them so each layer can be moved by the viewer. Furthermore, the boundary between the private and the public is further challenged by complicating the middle layer. What we want to do is to use cellophane to further divide the middle layer into two halves. The quality of cellophane can create a sense of ambiguity where the viewer can only vaguely see the objects behind the cellophane.

We have not decided on the content of this project, that is, “things” we will put in the bookcases. We have agreed that the content will be determined by the material we have collected through our interviews with Billy owners. We are thinking about including both tangible and intangible things (audio, visual or smell etc.)

Materials required

Two Billy bookcases, wheels, hinges, handles and cellophane.

33 Pitstops Towards the Uncanny Valley



Storage, Interaction and Dance at IKEA

Some inspiration from an event in the storage area at the northernmost IKEA Sweden, located in Haparanda.

It's called Post-Wedding Depression, and is a performance with and by my friends in the Stockholm-based dancing troupe Johanssons Pelargoner och Dans.


they saw me coming

These were two Ikea purchases I made beyond and above the call of duty. The lint roller I am very happy with. How did I live without it? Takes away that tramp look in seconds. The frame has of yet to find a tenant and was purchased in true Ikea style because it was so god damn cheap. I had the fear that I may somehow never set foot in Ikea again even though I knew we were returning in a week. Irrational perhaps but still glad I bought it. 

A Room Full of Stories

After a couple of failed attempts in finding someone I do not know with a Billy bookcase, I have to admit that I started to feel a bit hesitated. However, after some deeper digging I did find a family with a whole room filled with great stories and 6 Billy bookcases. The feeling I had was comparable to winning the lottery!


Interview #2

I am really a "Billy Person" For the second interview, I added out an appeal at Facebook and put up a notice in the student house where I live. I got some tips but they all lived outside Stockholm. One from my highschool got in touch- we have not met in six years. I had the opportunity to meet his mother I met Anna-Lisa Saturday afternoon. Anna-Lisa is 59 years old and live in apartment south of Stockholm. She works as a socialworker and lives with her two cats. Anna-Lisa is orginally from Finland with an american mother. There are also two adults sons in the family, who have moved out.

Billy is Timeless

Tomek, late twenties, is now working as a IT consultant. I found him through a friend. He lives alone in this apartment. This apartment was built in the 1930s; the windows and the floors are preserved as it were original built. Tomek chose this particular apartment for its location and its environment nearby; it's close to the city, metro station and it's quiet.

Interview #2

My second interview was performed on a friend living in Montreal and I did a Skype interview with her. First she took some photos of her Billy and sent them to me then we started the talk.

Couple’s Billy

What I find very interesting about the Billy bookcase from David and Kristin almost didn’t come up during the interview. When I asked if they had any difficulties putting it together they first answered: “Not really”. Kristin then looked at David chuckling and adding: “Well, we had a problem when we moved and were putting it together for the second time. Should I tell?” – “Well it is kind of embarrassing for me,” said David.

The Interventionist's Toolkit: Posters, Pamphlets and Guides

"Begun in December 2010, H.D.O. was founded by writer Rob Walker, photographer Ellen Susan and New Orleans’ publisher/gadfly G.K. Darby. The trio commissions, prints and posts fantasy signage not only as a means of provoking interest in abandoned sites around New Orleans, but also as a way to generate an alternative narrative for the city. They draw on the active imaginations of architects, designers and artists, giving them free reign to rework the existing buildings on paper."
via places.designobserver.com

Impressions of IKEA

Would be a shame if these pictures would languish at my harddrive, so here's some impressions from our (me, Parisa and Yi-Ying) trip to IKEA a couple of weeks ago!


'Billy' connects people! ( Second interview)

I want to start with a brief story how I found my second interviewee. When I knew that we need to find participants for our project- I e-mailed the whole school in an effort to find a volunteer. Konstfack approximately has more than a thousand of students. I got only one reply…
His name is Pavel Fiorentino ( and he is a first-year master student at Art in the Public Realm (Fine Arts department). And fortunately he turned to be my fellow citizen. He is living in Sollentuna , nice picturesque area almost out of Stockholm. Pavel sharing his apartment with his partner Ever, who is also a student in IT sciences. Pavel is incredibly interesting person with a great experience of traveling, working and studying (all listed above most of the time is blended in one). Our dialogue was in Russian.

Interview 2

This week our interviewee is Alexander, a 63 year old retired government worker from my home town of Toronto!

Memories on transit Billy

Ulrika Blom/ 28/ 'In Space' Master Student at Konstfack
"For me this bookshelf is more like a storage place, I inherited so many books from my dad. And I don't want to throw them away. So that's why it is important for me. It stores memories."
I found this girl when I asked my Interior friend, if he has any Billy Bookcase at home. Ulrika was sitting next to him, talking on their desing project. After I explained our Billy's mission to her. She voluntary excepted my interview on the next day without any question.

Carl Kleiner's videos

Ikea - Art of cooking - The drummer from Carl Kleiner on Vimeo.


Billy for Sale

I saw this ad. yesterday in Danderyds sjukhus so took a picture with iphone, sorry that it's not so clear.
This Billy bookcase is a bit shorter than the ones we bought, it's 80 x 192 x 28cm.

DIY IKEA coffin by joe scanlan


Artist Christine Hill sent me this!

Notes from today


Interview #1.

Hampus is my classmate. And also industrial design student.
He is 26 years old Swedish guy. Loves movies, music and tea.
The picture of his billy will tell more about this.

Billy Interview #1

Since I couldn't find any friend with a Billy bookcase, my first interviewee is a person I don’t know and I met her through a friend. I went to her place with my friend and we spent a whole evening together having tea and cookies, then dinner.

Interview with Cecilia and her Billys

“It probably doesn’t happen very often that a total stranger comes home to you and asks you questions about your bookcases,” I said as Cecilia led me to the kitchen and poured me a cup of coffee. “As a matter of fact, never” Cecilia replied laughingly with Astrid in her arms staring at me with earnest and curiosity.

Through a friend, I was put into contact with Cecilia and able to arrange an interview with her on Billy. Truth be told, it was a rather bizarre feeling to sit in a stranger’s kitchen and try to get them to talk about themselves and most of all, their bookcases. So how did I break the ice? I had to start somewhere. So I began by presenting myself and explaining where this interview was coming from. I told her about the Billy course and the ambition of turning this course into publications and an exhibition or something like that. I think I got my message across all right. So, it was time to get personal.
Cecilia, 28, is currently on maternity leave taking care of her daughter Astrid, who was born in July 2010. Before Astrid was born, Cecilia was a student of Arts Teacher Education at University College of Arts, Crafts and Design. She plans to resume her study in August this year. Her partner, Marcus, who wasn’t home at the time of interview, works as a postman. They live in a two-room apartment in Telefonplan.

Christine Hill Poster


Per's Bookshelf (A Sketch)

So... This is my bookshelf, in a highly impressionistic form.

To be honest, it's not really a bookshelf at all, but rather a vertical storage area where there also happen to be some books.

At the top, since there is plenty of room between the billy and the ceiling, there are plastic containers for use in storing and cooking food. Convenient, if a little messy.

Below, there are batteries, spare lightbulbs, belts and other miscellaneous stuff. It's "that" kind of shelf!

Interview about the “Billy bookcase”
Sara is 28 years old and is student from Konstfack, University College of Arts, Crafts and Design. Lives in Stockholm, in 2 room apartment. She has her Billy bookcase in the livingroom. She recently had to move, so at the moment the bookcase is stored.

Interview-Mojdeh and her Billys

* It is a competition man!
          I started the assignment by asking my friends from Taiwan if they have bookshelf from Ikea or not, but then I realized that it’s not gona work because we are all students who will leave Sweden within one or two years, no one want to buy this kind of bookshelf even it is really cheap.  

          So I turned to my Swedish classmates for help, and soon it became a competition between us because we have four people in this course, and we only have 5 Swedish in our ID class.
          “Have you asked Hampus yet ? ”  “Yes! He has one!!”  “shit!”
         “Did you ask Mojdeh ? ”  “I did ! ”  “Fuck !”

         After the competition, I got Mojdeh as my interviewee.


Richard and his Billy

Richard lives in Bromma and moved to Sweden from the Nederlands a couple of years ago. In the bookcase there are a level of mainly Dutch books and two other levels of mainly Swedish books. Differently from me, he has read about 90% of his books.

Richard was not aware of his bookcase being a Billy until he had already bought it. He bought it because the bookcase fit into the apartment he was living in at that moment and he found it for a good price in a second hand shop located nearby, so he did not have to carry it for too long. He said "vem bryr sig" (who cares) when asking if he was satisfied with his decision of the bookcase.

NSA & The IKEA Protocol

Tuesday. Konstfack

Tuesday 8th March, Konstfack. Room S4. at 9.00. It is in the main corridor, but if you will have any problem to find it- ask on the reception.

IKEA has some Competition!

A friend's boockase inventory from Anna Marie on Vimeo.

Fieldwork #2 Billy is your Friend

On Monday February 28th, 2011, I road the bus from Stockholm University to the home of Raoul Galli in the Kungsholmen neighborhood of Stockholm Sweden.  He agreed to be interviewed about his BILLY bookcase, which he has in the living area of his 2 room apartment that he shares with his teenage daughter.  I was not the first observer to visit his home, last year a Stockholm University researcher interviewed him about living alone and the year before that, IKEA Japan and an architecture magazine documented what it was like to live in such a such a small space.  I have made a five minute edit of our interview, using scratch audio and iMovie.

Raoul Galli from John Freyer on Vimeo.


Billy and the Asklund family

I have known the Asklund family for about four years. The wife, Trish (40+, housewife), and I met at Stockholm University where we studied anthropology together. When I told her that I was looking for people who have Billy bookcases in their homes, she responded swiftly, “We have a number of Billy bookcases. Bo (41, software engineer) has been a long time owner, his parents too. He grew up with them; they were new to me when I came to Sweden [Trish is from the United States] that should make for some good sampling for you. Let me know when you want to get together.” So I paid them a visit on a Sunday afternoon in anticipation of some good stories. And I wasn’t disappointed.

Billy on Facebook

When I look after Billy on Facebook I find this, he has his own sajt and you can be a friend to him if you want to:-)

Jessica’s Billies
Jessica Svenningson is a 23-year old student of marketing in her final master's year. She has moved to Stockholm from Göteborg two and a half years ago. What brought her to Stockholm was a wish to live in a bigger city and master studies were a good excuse for that. Billy bookcase that she bought in Göteborg moved with her into the student campus Lappskärrsberget (Lappis). She now lives in a one room apartment with her own bathroom but shared kitchen and dining area.

The Billig Billy

The floor plan of Felix's apartment.

"Billy pronouns like 'billig', which means cheap in Swedish." Anu Mai, Felix's mother.

Felix, twenty-seven years old, is a master student. He is fond of Chinese cultures. He studied in Beijing for two years few years ago and has been to Hong Kong as an exchange student for half a year. Felix lives with his mother, Anu Mai, who is teaching economics at Stockholm University. Felix has an elder brother, who is now married and moved to Göteborg.


"Say NO to NAKED Furniture" is the slogan behind the web site Mykea; the creative way of covering up the nakedness of Ikea furniture!


'Billy' the bookcase interview

It was really a new experience for me, because I never made an interview before. First of all I faced with a challenge to find a person who owns ‘Billy’. Lots of my friends have a furniture from IKEA, but not so many of them got ‘Billy’.(or probably they just don’t know if their bookcase is ‘Billy’ or not).After I found a particular interviewee I decided to prepare a checklist of questions which I was interested in and as it was advised in the article ‘Doing Ethnographies’. Now analyzing the process of my interview I can definitely say that I made the main mistake that was mentioned in the article – I got stuck to the questions that I prepared and it prevented me of building a fluent discussion. One more point -it was impossible to come to the place where my friends’ ‘Billy’ was, because it is his parents’ apartment and he wasn’t sure that it would be proper to come there. Our interview took place at one of the Konstfack seminar rooms.During interview I was trying to record and filming as well which made me feel even more nervous than my interviewee, but as it is said- skills come with the experience so here is my ‘first try’ interview.

What Billy can represent you...?

Lars Karlsson-Liljas/ 29years/ Swedish/ Co-teacher at Adult Education Centre (Mostly for Immigrant People) and Contemporary History Student of Södertörn University

Lars has a full-size Billy bookcase in Oak colour, which has been in this apartment before he moved in. It has been placed in the living room besides the wall and staircase to the 1st floor.

He told me, his sister was the one who bought this Billy Bookcase years before. She and her husband had used it for a couple of years until they had another bookcase to replace for their own reason.

Interview Billy

Before I did the interview I read Cook & Crangs tips! I did not have to shape my own field as I know I should interview and invent a friend's Billy Bookcase. Not at all easy, it turned out. None of my friends in Stockholm had a Billy Bookcase. I then rang a friend's parent, who accepted!
Before the interview I made a guide, which would be supportive to me and I was inspired by my own bookcase inventory, our discussions and what I've seen in our blog from our own personal bookcase inventories! I took the course description of our field work with me and my own bookcase inventory, to show what we do and what I was interested to talk about. I brought a charged camera, tape recorder with extra batteries and extra tapes - all according to hints from Cook & Crangs. I also bought a semla! The interview could start!

The Meaning of Billy

We bask in the sleepy afternoon sunlight of a late February day. The blåmes flit amongst the bare branches of the hedge that frames the snug patio and filter the gold and gossamer rays that illuminate the warm cherry veneer and faded leather covers of Anders’ personal library. Jasmine tea suffuses the air and the whole atmosphere speaks of spring as opposed to the lingering traces of an exceptional winter.
“Epistemology is one of the most important subjects anyone could know. I think it should be a mandatory part of any education. It would only take a single term to know everything there is to know about it, but I think it is necessary to understand epistemology to be good at any other discipline, regardless of its application.”
This is a well known argument of his; I have heard it many times.


'IKEA' song

Jonathan Coulton - Ikea
Long ago in days of yore
It all began with a god named Thor
There were Vikings and boats
And some plans for a furniture store
It’s not a bodega, it’s not a mall
And they sell things for apartments smaller than mine
As if there were apartments smaller than mine

An article about the global IKEA


spike jonze advert for Ikea

When is a mouse not a mouse?

Kitchens - the new battleground


The Ol' Switch-a-Roo

In 1960 legendary film producer David O. Selznick was posed with a major problem. He needed 10,000 extras for a fight scene in the epic Spartacus. The scene was fast approaching but he was already over budget on what was to be the most expensive movie ever made at that point. Today all he would have to do is call one guy in New Zealand, whose software, Massive, would sort it out in a few minutes, a la Lord of The Rings. However Selznick had an even better idea. Instead of 'hiring' the extras, as was standard practice, he took out a full page advert 'offering' the chance to appear in his Hollywood blockbuster by paying only 10 dollars! People clamoured to do it. Thereby making him a lot of money and a wry chuckle at the whims of people. A few years later Mr. Ikea had a very similar idea. Instead of paying people to make his furniture, he would convince people to pay him so they could make it for him. Genius.

The Colbert Report - 1668

IKEA instructions for Stonehenge!


Fieldtrip to Ikea.(Get the Billy!)

It was last thursday 24 Barbara and I went to Ikea. We met at Segels torg and went to Gallerian to take the shuttle bus, but we found that the bus stop was moved. We ran to the new place and were able to catch the bus. We arrived at Ikea 20 mins later, and the building seemed really big as always. As we hadn'thad lunch, we kicked off the trip with having lunch first.

Goethe got it wrong but Bieber got it right away


Goethe's 'Theory of Colour' advocated both Yellow and Blue as the First colours of the spectrum, largely due to the agency of sun and sky alike. While no doubt pleasing to Swedes and Ikea executives Goethe was a little premature in that assertion as Newton subsequently proved. These fans of Justin Bieber give credence to the fact that Yellow is the first colour the eye sees. Blog post by the mum below