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.

There are three Billy bookcases (two big and one small) in the apartment and they are all standing up against one wall in the living room. Cecilia and Marcus got the Billys when they moved into this apartment two and a half years ago.
“It was mainly because Billy is cheap and [has] simple [style] and the measurements fit the wall,” said Cecilia recalling why they purchased the Billy bookcases. The thing with Billy, she added, is that “it is easy to get it home. They [the bookcases] are not like massive.” The couple doesn’t own a car but Marcus’ parents have one so to transport Billy wasn’t that difficult.
“What we did was that Marcus and I went to IKEA to check out the bookcase first and then decided which ones we were gonna get. Then he went with his father to IKEA a few days later to get the bookcases home,” explained Cecilia and tried to entertain Astrid who was apparently getting bored at our conversation.
In the smaller Billy to the right are mainly reserved for films, which according to Cecilia, are Marcus’ passion. On top of this bookcase are some music magazines which also belong to Marcus.

Interesting enough, the two big Billys have respective owners: the one to the left belongs to Marcus while the one to the right belongs to Cecilia.
“This is my bookcase,” Cecilia pointed as introducing me to her bookcase, “this is where I put all my books and stuff.” There are a lot of thrillers and fictions in Cecilia’s bookcases. “Yes, I like thrillers,” she said. And when I asked about her favorite thriller writer, she couldn’t really name one but then said that “I like Stieg Larsson.” Among the thrillers, you can see works of Stephen King as well as “American Psycho” by Bret Easton Ellis. There doesn’t seem to be a clear pattern as to how the bookcase is organized as the thrillers are put on the first, second, third, and fifth shelves. And among the thrillers are some fictions as well such as “Ett Öga Rött” by Jonas Hassen Khemiri. Since Cecilia did some courses on history and art, there are quite a few books of these two subjects. They are mainly on the fourth and sixth shelves. On the bottom shelf are file holders where Cecilia keeps her bills and papers.
“I did organize my own bookcase once but then Marcus rearranged it,” explained Cecilia but didn’t really know how or what was the organizational logic of her bookcase. The only thing she knew with certainty is that “Marcus put some of my books here [next to the black box on the second shelf], the books that he hasn’t read.”
Apparently, Cecilia didn’t disagree with how Marcus rearranged her bookcase as she didn’t undo it. “It’s just a bookcase and it’s not like I have a lot of books,” she added when giving Astrid a snack.

When we moved on to Marcus’ bookcase, there are also quite a lot of thrillers which are mainly on the top and fifth shelves. Then there are some films and many CDs. According to Cecilia, Marcus did some courses on photoshop and media, which explained some of the books on the fourth shelf. On the same shelf, I recognized some familiar anthropological books. “Yes, he did the A level course in anthropology a few years ago,” explained Cecilia adding that he enjoyed it. On the bottom shelf of Marcus’ bookcase are binders where Marcus keeps his bills and papers.

It is interesting to see how the couple has different ways of organizing papers. “I like the file holders because I think they look prettier. Besides I don’t have to punch holes in my papers!” said Cecilia.

After the little tour of the Billys in the living room, we went back in the kitchen and sat at the kitchen table. I asked Cecilia how often they visit IKEA and their general experiences with it.
“We probably go to IKEA about three times a year. We rarely buy furniture there. We bought Billys, a baby bedding and a baby changing table from IKEA. I think that was probably it. […] we do tend to get from IKEA small stuff like kitchen towels, photo frames, curtains and some stuff for the kitchen,” explained Cecilia.
Sometimes, the couple goes to IKEA without actually planning to buy anything. “We just go there, walk around in the store and check things out,” said Cecilia added that they often skip the showrooms because they think they are kind of silly and boring. Apparently, they don’t go there for inspiration.


  1. "Billy fits the room" is quite commonly read from other interviews. ;)
    How other bookshelves differ from Billy in terms of the "fitness"?

  2. I love that they each have their own bookcase. My wife and I both still have our own checking accounts. Its like the 2 BILLY's let them hold on to their independent selves.