This originally appeared on VICE Canada
IKEA is nothing if not a unifying fixture in our society that calls to mind relationship-testing arguments and the inevitable frustration of assembling and dissembling its signature particle board furniture. If you have a piece in your home from the Swedish company and did not think What in the actual fuck? while looking at that stupid, smiling dude in the illustrated directions while building the damn thing, then you must be far more intellectually superior than the majority of us.
Pivoting on the connection that so many of us share with our eerily similar cheaply furnished homes, Hunter Fine (who you might remember from Brooklyn's "hipster traps") and Alex Taylor started Hikea Productions and decided to see what would happen when they gave strangers various kinds of drugs and asked them to build some especially trying IKEA items.
Why did you start Hikea?
Hunter Fine: We both work in advertising, and we're both kind of conceptual thinkers and come up with these sorts of ideas... We were out one day, and this word just popped up: "Hikea." We kind of knew that we had to make it. It was one of those things where the word just explained everything. From there, we were like, How do we do this? That led to us hiring a production crew, finding people, and shooting it.
So you just have the two videos right now, which are about LSD and magic mushrooms. I saw the shrooms one got taken down by YouTube, though, right?
Fine: It was funny, this morning we woke up, and I'm not sure exactly why, but Keith, the mushroom one, got removed.
Alex Taylor:Yeah, we reposted it again with a disclaimer.
Fine: Hey, only watch this if you're over 18, don't do drugs, drugs are bad.
How did you find the first subjects for it?
Fine: We thought it was going to be really difficult to find people. We thought no one in their right mind would agree to take drugs and do anything on camera. We just put out a Craigslist ad to test the temperature of the water, and we got like 50 responses or something [laughs]. People were dying to take drugs on camera. We sifted through all the responses just to sort of determine who seemed the most sane. We didn't want people who just wanted to do the project just so they could do drugs or something. We ended up finding people who were great to work with, very cool, and very level-headed. Craigslist actually did something good.
For the LSD video, did the man and the woman in it know each other before?
Fine: They were friends. So basically we found Nicole, and she was like, "I know this dude who would love to participate too. We thought it'd be a bit more dynamic having two people or a couple: One person would read the directions while the other person was doing it. It ended up that they played off each other really well. We also had this thing originally where it was just going to be Nicole, and I remember thinking we don't want to be the guys who have a girl taking drugs and film her on camera. That doesn't seem very cool. So we were like, "Do you have any male friends?" And that seemed a bit more appropriate.
How do you decide which pieces of furniture you are going to use?
Fine: We took a tour of IKEA, walked around, and we're like, "If we're on mushrooms, what would be a challenge?" It didn't necessarily have to be the most extensive piece of furniture, just like what would make someone on mushrooms want to like kill themselves or make someone overthink. The simplicity of a desk is that it isn't too elaborate but still involves a bit of work. If you watch the Keith video, episode two, you'll notice he doesn't actually finish the desk—he thinks he's done, but there's still a lot of wood he didn't use.
Taylor: He had this entire upper-shelving thing he didn't use and just sort of bypassed [laughs]. I think for me in terms of picking furniture, there was an element of thinking back to furniture I've put together in the past and thinking, Oh, desks are challenging. Dressers have those runner things with the drawers, and I've put those things on so many times, and it completely screws up your momentum. Hunter and I were thinking about that, just what would be the most confusing.
Do you have any plans for future HIKEA videos?
Fine: Those are the only two that we shot, but we have plans to continue the series. We're hoping these pick up enough momentum where people will be excited to participate or help us make more. We definitely have more ready, but it's a matter of going out and shooting them.
What drug is next?
Taylor: I'd love to do ayahuasca; we just need to find a shaman.
What do you do with the furniture after?
Taylor: We let them keep the furniture, which feels very benevolent, but the reality is that it just means we don't have to drag it away.
I saw the disclaimer on your website that jokes about how IKEA might want to sue you. Do you think that's something that could actually happen?
Fine: Who knows, they're a Swedish company, they tend to be pretty cool about things. I think they would find it funny. I think we went into it knowing it's a parody. We're not sure the legal ramifications, but hopefully they'll have a sense of humour about it.
Taylor: Yeah, we're not saying anything bad about IKEA. If anything, this subject works because IKEA is such a vital part of our lives, and I think that's why people are seeing these videos, relating to them, and enjoying them. I think the IKEA people would like it, personally, but we'll see.
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