Helping IKEA Surface in the City

Nancy Vayo | MIA 02 Interior Architecture

Every city dweller knows that when it comes to successful interior design, the key is maximizing limited space.

Nancy Vayo MIA 02, interior design leader for IKEA’s New York Project, did just that in overseeing the design of the home furnishing giant’s Upper East Side Planning Studio, a new space centered on developing solutions for urban living through design.

photo by Roy Beeson

“We transformed a former Urban Outfitters into a planning studio and showroom,” says Vayo. Rather than offering products for sale on site, the three-story showroom—which, at 17,350 sf, is small by IKEA standards—is designed to provide inspiration and consultation services.

“I led a team of designers to create three studio apartments inside the space,” Vayo explains—including one “inspired by the small Falu red painted cottages found in the woods in Sweden.”

Swedish Falu red painted cottages served as inspiration for one of Vayo’s designs.

When Vayo and her team conducted home visits before designing the new planning studio, they confirmed that issues of storage and organization—“shoes lined up on the stairs, skis in the hall and bikes chained to interior stairways”—are especially challenging for city dwellers.

In showing how small spaces can be both more functional and inviting if designed well, “the conceptual home is a metaphor for the brand as well as city living where our lives happen inside as well as outside our homes,” Vayo says. And, she adds: “The space also carries a message of sustainability.”

photo by Roy Beeson

The first of its kind in the US, the new outpost in Manhattan is helping IKEA expand its New York market beyond giant warehouse stores in Paramus, Elizabeth, Long Island and Brooklyn. The company hopes to roll out 30 more studios in cities around the world in the next three years.