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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

IKEA decorates subway interior

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In the weeks leading up to the mid-April opening of an Ikea store in Kobe, Japan, the Swedish furniture design giant has “redecorated” one of the city’s subway trains (the campaign ended today). It is the most blatant form of “ad creep” I’ve seen in ages, but maybe because it’s soooo over-the-top — and executed really well — that I can swallow it. Or maybe its because I own too much Ikea crap so I’m comfortable seeing my couch used as a subway seat.

I say this with tongue firmly planted in cheek, but maybe this is what it would take to get people to use the Sheppard subway line more since it leads to an Ikea store near Leslie station.

To see more check out a series of phots from a Japanese blog.



  1. Anyone remember that Ikea commercial where a subway interior gets a makeover?

    It was only a matter of time that life would imitate ad.

  2. When I was in Amsterdam in 2005, IKEA has just opened a new store in the neighbouring city of Haarlem (a 10-minute train ride from Amsterdam).

    Rather than decorating a train, they decorated the platform of the adjacent train station (throw pillows on the bench, mirrors and pictures hanging in the shelters, etc, etc, etc). Unlike with the couches in Japan, travellers were allowed to “steal” the items.

  3. Given the current state of the TTC – why not?

  4. Those IKEA couches looked uncomfortable even in the catalog.

  5. If IKEA is willing to pay lots of money for this, this is a revenue stream that should be exploited.

    It’s high time that the TTC came up with creative means to raise capital. This is only one small step in the larger pyramid. The proposal to sell naming and design rights of stations to corporations must surely be considered.

  6. I wonder how long those couches would actually last on the TTC… oops I dropped my coffee / diet coke / grape juice.

  7. Stephen: I think a lot of people think similarly to you, but only $18 million is raised each year from advertising. Its saves riders about .03 cents per fare. Even if the TTC received $50 million a year it still wouldn’t add up to 1 penny per fare.

    I would argue the visual impact ads have on the TTC outweigh the amount of impact ad revenue has on the TTC’s bottom line.

    naming rights may be the worst idea — people need to know where they are going: someone could buy the Dundas station naming rights and change it to Sony or Apple. That doesn’t help anyone besides the company, and our transit system is above all supposed to help riders first.

  8. Well in a nice world that would be great. But it is not a nice world here, espesially on the Subways. It would be destroyed in less then a month. Totally unusable, slashed, cut, painted, pins being stuck in them so when riders sat down, and so on. I wish with all my heart it was’t so but there is a percentage of young people out there that do not have any repect for others or their property.
    It is becoming very a very sad place.