From Dinner to Stonehenge: IKEA-style Instructions for Just About Everything

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IKEA, which sells products in more than 35 different countries, had the brilliant idea to create wordless, graphical instructions for all their products, thus enabling people all over the world to build their flat-pack furniture at home. While they can sometimes be difficult to interpret, the IKEA instructions are instantly recognizable, making them easy to imitate. Artists and humorists have designed mock-IKEA instructions for everything from Stonehenge to Doctor Who's TARDIS.

CollegeHumor created a series of IKEA instructions for life: HÖUSS (house), BÄBBY (baby), HÄDRÖNN CJÖLIDDER (Large Hadron Collider), TRÜSST (trust), and MËTH (meth). The style is spot-on, right down to the IKEA logo, although the splash of red in TRÜSST wouldn't be found in a real IKEA instructions manual.

Just this past May, CollegeHumor followed up with a new set of IKEA instructions, this time for popular sci-fi objects: DJILORIANN (the DeLorean from Back to the Future), DINDASÜR (the T-Rex from Jurassic Park), LITSABBUR (the Star Wars lightsabers), and TJARDIIS (the TARDIS from Doctor Who). Like their first batch, CollegeHumor's sci-fi manuals are spot-on for style, with the exception of the colors in the LITSABBUR directions. (Miss Cellania linked to this set of manuals when they first appeared back in May.)

Justin Pollard, John Lloyd, and Stevyn Colgan designed an IKEA manual for Stonehenge, publishing it under the title HËNJ in the QI 'H' Annual. The two-page instructions call for 10,000 workers and offer a wizard to help if you get stuck. They're also a bit more detailed than your average IKEA directions.

Design student Kieren Jones created new products from existing IKEA products, and then designed the accompanying instructions as well. IKEA's Poang chair became a sled; the Bumerang clothes hangers became a crossbow, gun, and stag's head. The finished products are cool, but I wish we could see the instructions Jones made!

GOOD asked its readers to "redesign the standard recipe with a graphic twist to make it more fun." One of the 22 submissions was PHO BO by illustrator and designer Ethan Buller, who set up the recipe for Vietnamese Pho IKEA-style. Sadly, Buller's PHO BO wasn't one of the winning designs.

Speaking of recipes, IKEA itself made a cookbook of graphics-only recipes for Swedish foods. The booklet, Hembakat är Bäst (Homemade is Best), was free, but only available in the kitchen departments of the IKEA stores in Sweden, leaving many international IKEA fans to search in vain for copies of the surprisingly popular book. The recipes were styled by Evelina Bratell and photographed by Carl Kleiner. Kleiner, in collaboration with Bratell and Eric Severin, also created an accompanying series of instructional cooking videos; both the photos from the cookbook and the videos can be found on Kleiner's web site.

For Esquire's June 2006 issue, Mike Sacks and Julian Sancton created an IKEA instructions-style graphic of what can happen when one tries to use IKEA instructions. Suffice it to say, it doesn't end well.

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July 26, 2011 - 11:20am
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