IKEA Dining Club, London
3-10 Shoreditch High St, London E1 6PG
In-house by IKEA design and retail team
IKEA has long used experiential pop ups as a promotional tool: From bedrooms in the Metro in Paris, to the pop up Breakfast in Bed Cafe in London in 2015, IKEA is a master of playful eventing.
However, pop ups now seem to have become a core part of its overall retail strategy; the pyramid at the top of an omnichannel approach that combines the usual big out of town sheds, with smaller Click and Collect city formats.
The IKEA Dining Club, which popped up in Shoreditch between 10-25 September 2016, was their most social and immersive retail concept yet – and it was also our very favourite retail concept of the year.
The Dining Club concept was based on IKEA research which revealed that we no longer feel empowered or skilled to cook. As a result, this pop up was all about educating and entertaining.
Located in the iconic old N&C Showrooms on Shoreditch High Street, the Dining Club was created by PR agency Hope & Glory and Drive. The restaurant was managed by Disappearing Dining Club.
The Dining Club is a ‘DIY Restaurant’ where customers can join with up to 20 of their own friends to cook dinner for themselves, under the expert guidance of a professional chef. IKEA ran 38 Dining Club sessions during the two week pop up.
All the events were totally free, but you had to apply online for the restaurant sessions, of which there were only two per day. IKEA set up a dedicated website for the pop up, which of course, crashed immediately under the weight of all the dining requests!
The DIY restaurant was the heart of the concept, but its limited availability meant that IKEA needed to widen the appeal for walk in visitors and avoid creating a bottleneck. They did this beautifully by creating a multifunctional space.
Customers could enter via the cafe or the unique shop and walk through the building, exploring the fully functioning kitchen roomsets and storytelling themed displays.
The cafe was fully licensed, opened late, and, of course, served meatballs. There was also a Swedish Food Shop, selling a limited range of iconic Swedish IKEA products.
This focus on walk in hospitality was what gave the Dining Club its energy and authenticity – had it just involved the cooking classes it would have felt like mere PR spin. Instead this was somewhere you could explore and browse at your own pace.
The beautiful and fully functioning demo kitchen, the virtual reality kitchen and the lecture theatre for events gave the concept even more meat on the bones.
2016 is the year that the pop up became a mainstream retail channel and IKEA were at the forefront of innovation.
We are really excited to see what they do next!