Experience Stories

Manufacturing need through design


It was worth the wait.

I had seen the construction of the building for a long time. The branding exercises with the autos were refreshing. All the autos had the IKEA blue. As designers, you understand the value of fonts in design and sometime TYPE is design. But, with IKEA you know it.

Stepping into the theme park
It’s been a long time since, I stepped into a theme park – I even forgot the joy and jubiliation when entering one; the last time would have the school excursion to Dizzee world! I felt the same before entering IKEA, Hyderabad. The circular entrance was still closed and maybe they are on pilot mode still. But, you can clearly see a lot of people walking in, not the best of the entrance experience. It was more like entering a manufacturing shop.

After the security check, a poster suggested that you need the app to shop. I tried installing the app in the store believing that’s necessary to buy in IKEA. Nobody around were installing the app. and soon got distracted by the famous ‘Marius’

Marius stool – it greets you right at the start
Why the stool?
It’s affordable and you can’t add it to your bag yet.
This makes the customer find out the way to buy it. It also forces everyone to understand how to go about exploring the rest in the IKEA big store. At this point, I went to the coworker asking her how to buy the stool? Then, we got the blue trifold leaflet and the showroom map? Experience design!! More about this later

“You can take a photo of the tag. that’s the easiest” – a helpful IKEA co-worker.

Flow chart
At first it was not easy to understand how the shopping works. When did you have a guide to shopping handed over to you at the entrance? Shuffling between the shopper I am and the researcher, It was a confusing state. Again, How do I buy things here?
Yes, I didn’t read paper in my hand, who does when you are trying to buying something.
Everybody is climbing the stairs somewhere. Only when you go there , you realise its a place where you see things that are very different from what you see in you house everyday.

At this point, understand there are different tags and difficult to buy things. No ordinary shopper things about 3 different types of tags and ponders over the shopping experience – but the researcher in me, was very happy!!

Selling the idea
Elaborate room of different sizes furnished with everything a small room can potentially have. This room definitely succeeds in generating a need – and putting the notion that what you have in your house is old wood and is asking for retirement. Getting the user into a different world. Priming has been used for ages in the advertisement world, but IKEA has a new spin to it. It kindles your subconscious and successfully converts every single person who passes the myriad puzzled path into a customer or even an aspirant. There is a urge to buy something, but you can’t get anything in your hands yet. For the impatient, there is a want to move to the place where you can buy something. We ended up picking a rat here. at this point because you only allowed to see and soak into the design
“Priming is a technique whereby exposure to one stimulus influences a response to a subsequent stimulus, without conscious guidance or intention.”

At first, its a bit overwhelming to see a lot of things. Where do you need to go? I asked the coworker, she said just follow the light arrows on the floor. The ‘light arrows’ – why is it not painted on the floor earlier; may be there will be a new path to test later. Why leave a painted mark on the floor – when you can use the light to reflect the light from the top. Everything about the entire experience was thought through and once you got a bit familiar you know what to do.

Again, Marius stool
It is popularly known that the marius stool and the chicken balls are the largest sold items in the shop. So, the popular stool which greets you right in the front is also there in the furniture place. Why break the rule and show it there at the start? It might be about surfacing the relevant information and also telling the potential customer that there are things to buy which are really affordable. I got a red stool and it is INR 399 at the start. And makes you figure out how to traverse through the shop

Event at this point, I still can’t pick the stool. Its available in the self serve portal.

There are around 8-9 spaces [list it down ???] that you

Now, there is a pause. you see the restaurant , after a tired 2 hour run – you need to grab something to eat. but, its full. so we decided to move down and to the stage 2. the market place. It’s a normal store with starting with Kitchen items, the price tag and the design will make sure that you pick a lot of things here.

There are lots of things here. starting with 1,2,3,4,… [put the order here]

wander before going to the stage 2. Market place.

Self-serve experience
And then finally, the EXPERIENCE of the self-serve area, where you pick you furniture. At this point, you have to ponder over you camera images and find which ones you want to fininalize to pick. Location, Rack – yes. its really simple, there are close to 33 racks. Now you realize that its very easy and the entire journey makes clear sense.

And you wonder how can you picks something way up in the top; its easy. you don’t . everything is within your reach. rest of the place you would realize is used for storage.

Questions and answers?
What would be like if there was no – showroom and you went into the market place directly?
You will never realize what you don’t have. But, all showroom’s try to recreate this but IKEA take it to a different level.

Will IKEA have a online app?
They have an app that has all the products, there are plenty of delivery service out there which can deliver the flat packs. Why won’t it be an online superstore. If that happens, that we will buy only the few things that we want. Why would you get a Marius stool when you have the old stool that has been in the home of the last 20 years and still is strong.

Online order
“You will only buy what you want in Online – the scope of me buying more increases with offline shopping” Parkavi

Overall, IKEA is an Experience; It ould be interesting to find out when IKEA moved from furniture store to an experience. DId they look at data; was it a insight from a research deck or was it was a sudden random thought which culminated into what it is today – THE IKEA EXPERIENCE

There are lots of things that builds the IKEA experience, use of paper to jot down the shopping list, 1 metre measuring tape which is available at few places which you use to find if the furniture would fit you house, finding the rack in the self serve area, in case you change your mind, you can leave the stuff just before you go for billing.

And finally,
Ice cream at the end – Yes, you don’t get 10 INR yogurts anymore. But, in IKEA you do. After all the walking around, this is a welcome relief and yes, it’s full

Finally, why did I write about this? Design. Research..

Experience design
makes you wonder how many designers worked on this project. The light arrows, the Marius stool at the storuy, the ad outside showing the chicken balls outside Ikea, the light arrows that can be positioned at whim by altering the frame that reflects. The road inside that’s ideal for uber pick ups. – everything unfolded like a well written screen play.

And the, yellow bag – I missed this one, there is a place where you drop the yellow bags before the marketplace and pick up a trolley.
[Uber screenshot]

Will I use the app to make the list next time? I want to..

Somethings which needs more digging
Democratic Design

Day in a life of IKEA Co-worker


Crows of Colombo

One day,a crow visited our house, perched on the open window watched Parkavi cook. When I went near the kitchen, it flew away quickly. Parkavi started placing some food in the window rail, which the watchful crow would devour and quickly fly away.

Few days passed and it got comfortable enough to come in arma distance and eat, always watching your move.

On days there was no food, it started cawing until one of us showed up with food in hand and placed in the usual place.

There were more with days passing; most of them would sit on the wall and take turn to come to the window and then launch on the window rail.

Its been more than 2 months now and we have more visitors. But, there is only one who calls us to get his food. And this one is different from the others

Design Stories

Ola Stories

It has been the same for years of taking a taxi in different cities in India and ending up with a friendly chat and sometimes great stories.

Recent stories have been about ‘Ola’ and ‘taxiforsure’

Ola is killing businesses, I no longer book through my old favorites in chennai – fasttrack, friends taxi. Ola seems to be doing everything right.
It would be a great case study for anyone trying to come late in an established industry and making a huge impact.

Last week i visited Chennai and used Ola 3 times.

  1. Booked a Cab for someone who had to hurry to the airport and they were very happy with cab coming in 10 mins.- 4 May 2015

  2. Driver from Madhurai – 5 May 2015

It’s been a week since I moved from Madhurai; a friend from Chennai suggested it to me. Got a free phone and app. On peak times i get around INR 100 on every ride from Ola.
Ola charges 12% on every ride.

Kandanchavadi – > NGO colony = INR 140 – I have paid 180 – 200, 3 years back.
He wants to use OLA app for the directions and said he will get a GPS device for

  1. Driver from Dubai – 5 May 2015

I make more than what i made in Dubai; Sunday’s off.

Ford Figo. NGO Colony – > Airport – Paid through Ola money. I didn’t book the cab, my brother did.

Ola is making everyone happy, with their driver incentives such as INR 100 per trip for peak hours. The loyalty factor would help Ola in the long run even when the rates get increased due to pressure from competitors

Design Experience Stories Travel

Kargi Road Station

Kargi Road Station, is one of the smallest of the railway stations where the passing train won’t ever stop for more than 2 mins. I was on a visit to the JSS, Ganiyari to understand more about the In Patient Module and CHW(Community Health Worker) module and was on my way to Shivtarai sub-center to understand.

To know more about what i do here

This being my second visit JSS ended up shorter than originally planned and was ready to leave on train on 5th, Utkal Expresss from Bilaspur RAilway station to New Delhi. with alexa traffic rank 441, , is always down. I have never been successful in booking tatkal tickets online ever. I had decided that i would go to the Kargi Road Station, with the assumption that it would be empty and i would be successful in getting the ticket. I reached the station exactly 11 am when tatkal booking starts(starts 10 am in bigger stations such as Bilaspur) , and was the first in the queue. The man in the counter would have been around 45 years old wearing a nicely pressed white shirt , comfortably sititng showing that he had everything he needed to get the job done.

His first attempt to log in into the railway network failed, cursing the gods, he called his colleague and figured out what needs to be done to get the system working again. It was the usual. Manual shutdown by holding the power button and kicking the system back on. The system was on now, and he started running around looking for something in all the registers around the table. After 5 mins, he found what he was looking for, the login id and password. He tried logging in to the system for 7-8 times, by now, he had another person assisting him.

By this time, the queue got bigger and bigger and i had my work team coming from the hospital in a jeep to pick me enroute to the subcenter. I suggested that he check the CAPSLOCK , if it was on by mistake. It was. Few in the queue showered short praises for the thought and i was again hoping to get my tickets. My first tatkal ticket, was a near dream now; he calls his friend now to tell him that the system is back working. Surely an achievement for the day, 2 mins goes away. When he came to my form after completing couple of cancellations, which could have been done later. The waiting list for 3AC and Sleeper were now 5 and 16. And when he tried booking, the system didn’t let him do it. The jeep came and i had to leave.

I did end up getting on the train the next day, which was 2 hours late; Got into the sleeper, and found a comfortable place near the door of S7, spent 6 hours sitting and sleeping before paying the extra fare and got a sleeper berth to spend the next 18 odd hours thinking about the interface which didn’t tell the user that CAPSLOCK was ON and the service provider who took his own sweet time and didn’t realize that time was what he had that day and the customer’s didn’t.

It was an experience. Kargi Road STation, i realized is one of the most beautiful stations i have ever been to. With a small grass covered hill on one side and a small station with a single counter. The super fast trains don’t stop, but Utkal express from bilaspur did stop there on my way to New delhi.

Next time, i visit JSS hospital, i have decieded to spend a good sunday afternoon on the railways station and may be climb the small hill for some pictures of the station

Ghana People Stories

Why Indian Football team got disqualified?

A Tale from Ghana

There was epic football match between India and Ghana. The Indians were well known to have specialized voodoo magic and tricks. The match began and everytime, the Indian hit the ball towards the ghanian post, the ghanians saw the ball as coal pot and didn’t stop it. India was leading the game to 100-0 goals against the team of Ghana.
A Ghanian hero rised, and decided that he would not let this happen and hit the coal pot and scored a goal. A sad fate, after scoring the goal he died.
Indian team was disqualified by FIFA.

This tale has been floating around with school children of Ghana for more than 40 years now. No one knows why it was India and how it all started? But it sure is interesting.
Let me know if you know anything about it.

Design Experience Ghana People Stories Travel

Shama and the boats

The day started with a ride from the hotel to Shama along the coast line for the first protocol, a marketing guy from Shama Credit Union of my field work in Ghana.

It was also the day of my first boat ride in the sea with a friend fisherman who offered a short trip into the sea and to the port from the place where he put the days catch; The fishermen venture into the sea for 4 days and return with their catch; its mostly sword fish that they catch, but dolphins do get into their nets. A dolphin would be sold GHC 60(INR 1800) and the meat is considered a delicacy. Women are not taken to the sea and they help the men with weaving nets; The children mostly boys help unload the catch when their family reach the shore; It is inauspicious to bring a turtle to the shore. The fishermen call their regular customers to the harbor when nearing the coast and the men and women from the nearby town gather before they reach the shore. The size of the fish is measured and the rates are fixed. Light fishing is quite a common practice; it is the practice of putting a glowing light into the ocean. The fishes are attracted to the bright light and they gather around the light and become an easy catch for the fishermen. I have had a similar experience of fishing in the night in one of the rivers in summer when the water level is low in Tamil Nadu, India.


  • Tyre tube
  • A cylindrical basket which is open in both sides.


The men light up the tyres; the fish stops moving and they put the basket around it and put their hand into the basket and catch the fish. In Ghana, its the glorified version where the fishermen use battery powered lights off the shore.

More coming on the Ghanian food, its people and my experience in the rich African soil!!