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We Talked to People on Dates at an Indonesian IKEA

In a city full of malls, minimalist furniture and warehouse-like aisles are a breath of fresh air.

ByAdi Renaldi photos byArdila Ramadan

This article first appeared at VICE Indonesia

Take a walk through the pre-fab flats of IKEA and you're bound to fine more than a few young couples in love. The Swedish furniture store has been one of the city's most popular spots for a date since it opened its doors in the suburbs of Jakarta four years ago.

That's right, IKEA, the site of countless breakups in the United States, is a place for young Indonesian couples to go and feel closer together. That's got a lot to do with what the store represents. IKEA is like a perfect daydream for young couples, a place where they can pretend to build a future together that's filled with Ektorp sofas and little ones playing in Småland. It's basically a place to dream about being married, and we all know how much Indonesians love the idea of getting married, right?

I wandered through the IKEA in Alam Sutra and stared at all the minimalist apartment layouts, which are, honestly, unlike anything you would ever find in an Indonesian home, and eventually came across a woman who worked there named "Bela." Why are so many young couples choosing IKEA for date night?

"Maybe our showroom offers them a different vibe than malls or cafes," Bela told me. "It's not only couples. A lot of families spend time here too."

She had no idea how many people in the store were on a date vs. actually there to shop, but, judging by the amount of couples I saw just hanging out during my three hours in the store, I would have to guess the answer is A LOT.

I decided to stop a few and figure out what brought them to IKEA on a date. Some said they were there for the food, others to buy stuff as simple as a coat hanger. Whatever their reason, these lovers better enjoy IKEA dates before the company decides to ban them altogether.

SELSI AND PANDU

Photo by Ardila Ramadan

VICE: So, IKEA huh? How often do you two come here on a date?
Selsi:
About 3-4 times a month. Usually we come here when we don’t have a class.

What do you like about IKEA?
The displays. Everything is neat. It’s just nice. But I only shop when I need to. I usually buy knick-knacks or cute stuff like dolls or flower pots.

DIDIT AND RAISA

Photo by Regan Reuben

VICE: Is this like your regular date spot?
Raisa: We don't come here all that often. But back when we were still living in Australia, we went to IKEA a lot. Like, maybe five times a year.

But why IKEA?
Back in Australia, we would get these food vouchers, so why not? But here, I think we only came here because we get bored of the malls.

Do these dates make you think about the future a lot?
Yeah, a bit. Like, ‘Oh this will look nice for my future home.’

Do you ever get in a fight here?
Nope. Why would we?

BIAN AND NATASHA

Photo by Ardila Ramadan

VICE: So would you ever make IKEA your regular Saturday night date?
Bian: I mean, if there was no other place to go, sure why not. But I think I would get bored if I came here too often.

How much time do you usually spend here?
Around three or four hours. We don’t really come here that often.

There's this belief that couples who go to IKEA end up breaking up. Do you think this is true?
Couples mostly break up because of infidelity. As long as it’s just hanging out at IKEA, and you haven't just gotten into a fights or argument right before, then it's fine.

FARAH AND NATA

Photo by Regan Reuben

VICE: What do you usually do at IKEA?
Fara: First we eat at the cafe, and then we walk around.

What do you like about coming here? Does it make you want to get your own place?
It’s not boring here. There’s a lot to see. But no, we don’t think about getting our own place. We just like to check out the furniture.

Are you just browsing or do you buy stuff too?
We don’t really shop all that often. We would probably buy some knick-knacks. It's just window shopping, mostly.

ADIT AND CINDY

Not Adit and Cindy, they didn't want us to take their photo. Photo by Regan Reuben

VICE: What brings you here?
Adit: Usually we go to Ikea for lunch. And that counts as a date. But we rarely shop when we’re on a date. So we just look around and envision what our future will be like when we have our own place… about all the kinds of furniture we will fill our future home with.

Do you ever get in a fight when you're here?
Ugh, of course not. That’s pathetic, who would fight at IKEA when there are all people these looking at you.

Does being here make you want to get married?
Not really. We just want to get our own place ASAP.