Let’s face it, the vast majority of us have experienced their own IKEA nightmare at least once. “Where does this screw go? Am I looking at the manual at the right angle? Oh s**t, I’ve assembled a mirror image!”

Truth is, designing an instruction manual requires a lot of collective effort from a variety of people, and those funny little booklets we get from IKEA are possibly in a class of their own.

Check out: How Ikea Designs Its (In)famous Instruction Manuals


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  • fits and startswith irregular movement; with much stopping and starting
  • intermission – a pause or break
  • foolproof – incapable of going wrong or being misused
  • ambiguous – open to more than one interpretation; not having one obvious meaning
  • surge – move suddenly and powerfully forward or upward
  • armoire – a cupboard or wardrobe, typically one that is ornate or antique
  • nip and tuck – a cosmetic surgical operation
  • undergird -provide support or a firm basis for


Think about it

Answer the questions below.

  • What did a newspaper in Sweden compare assembling IKEA furniture with?
  • What dos the number 400 refer to?
  • What does “knock-down” mean?
  • What does IKEA rely on for 80% of ready-to-assemble products.
  • What two guiding principles do designers fall back on when preparing instruction manuals?


Practice makes perfect

Fill in the blank spaces with the missing words. Use ONE word per blank space. Some blank spaces are followed by words in CAPITAL LETTERS; change the form of these words so they make sense in the sentences.

If the end result ________ sometimes feel like a civil engineering project (as Dickner admits ________ some pride), it’s because a high level of ________ PRECISE and ________ REDUNDANT is exactly what undergirds even the most complex or tedious Ikea assemblies. They may not be pleasant, but they are ________ least rational and comprehensible—even _________ SYMPATHY —by design. Think of that big-nosed “Ikea man” who’s shown calling the company ________ he gets stuck. He’s not mocking or condescending. If anything, he represents some ________ DESIGN at Ikea who has already gone through exactly ________ you’re going through now _______ your living room floor: half-quizzically glancing from instruction booklet to pile-of-parts and back, hoping for the best, but trusting that it will all, at the very least, ________ sense.


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