Some Assembly Required

Chances are, you have a least one piece of furniture in your home that would fall under the category of assembly required.  Ikea is infamous for this, where shoppers are swooned in their football-field storeroom.  The showrooms seem so perfect, fogging consumers knowledge of what toucher is in store after opening the seemingly innocent packages at home.

I recently purchased a bookshelf from Office Depot.  Harmless enough right?!  I choose this item because it matched my desk.  After starting my doc program this summer, the desk was high on the must have list to purchase.  Lloyd was feeling generous and had assembled it for me.  He said is was ‘pretty easy.’

What I got was a 16 step nightmare.

Why do we fall for these “some assembly required” purchases?  Based upon an article on CBS Money Watch, IKEA Effect: Why Consumers Buy ‘Assembly Required’ Products, Sean Silverthrone writes

“In the researchers’ paper The IKEA Effect: When Labor Leads to Love, the message is clear. Consumers value things more when their own effort is required to build them. There is enjoyment in showing off our “creations” to others. Even if I do a crummy job putting it together — you should see the Leaning Bookcase of Pisa I built — I value products that I assemble more than those I don’t. This overvaluing holds even for consumers who don’t profess an interest in build-your-own.  There is an important caveat. In order to overvalue do-it-yourself products, it seems that assemblers have to be able to complete them.”

Before constructing my own ‘some assembly required’ bookshelf I would have disagreed with this article.  My reason for this purchase was cost as this bookshelf was half the cost of one constructed in a real furniture store.  But, now that I have made my own ‘leaning bookcase of pisa,’ heck yes will I show it off!

So please enjoy my construction journey.  Three hours later, mixed with a few fixable errors, I had a bookcase!


Going back to the CBS Money Watch article, could the IKEA Effect also be related to other ‘creations’ in our lives?  Look at your Facebook or Instagram feed and you’ll see posts filled with the latest accomplishments and announcements, where friends are assembling their lives in posts and images like:

  • Successful home cooked dinner
  • Finish line race medal
  • Date night
  • Beach sunset
  • Holiday acation highlights

Maybe our attraction to building ‘assembly required’ furniture actually has deeper roots in how we are constructed as human beings.  I love the idea that we are all a work or creation in progress, all with parts that we continually build on to.  The carpenters of our lives.

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