Thursday 6th June, 2013

Ingvar Kamprad (87) is retiring but will continue to fly economy class, recycle used tea bags and drive his 1993 Volvo. But this story is really about Gnomes.

Ingvar as you probably know, is the founder and former chairman of Ikea:Ikea Clouds Parting
He is a seriously wealthy bloke so he doesn’t need to recycle his tea bags and could probably afford furniture that didn’t have names like “Ombytlig, Billy or Sven.”  (By the way did you know Ikea have a product called….Produkt?): Ikea Produkt
Ingvar is dyslexic (which may explain the difficulty most people have in understanding the assembly instructions of his flat pack furniture) and has built an enormous empire of furniture stores with inexpensive restaurants, which he says he will continue to visit for cheap meals. Incidentally in numbers printed, the IKEA catalogue is the third most numerous publication in the world after the Bible and Harry Potter.

Recently IKEA ran a TV ad in the UK featuring garden Gnomes in which a couple resort to increasingly violent methods to stop garden Gnomes intent on preventing the couple from remodelling their outdoor area with IKEA furniture. The items they chose probably had names like; Dagstorp, Grönkulla and Knutstorp but the point is the ad which had not caused a ripple of discontent in other countries, generated a fair amount of upset in the UK with complaints about children being frightened, some found it offensive and others claimed it would encourage anti-social behaviour. Gnomists everywhere threatened to take up small pitch forks against the giant Swedish company. See the ad here:

No, no not the Gnomes!

I don’t know if Brits are especially soft about Gnomes, but the poor little creatures have this year finally come in from the cold or rather, just been allowed out in the cold garden for the first time in 100 years. Gnomes were banned for a century from The Chelsea Flower Show because they were simply “brightly coloured mythical creatures” according to the Royal Horticultural Society. They probably meant Gnomes were just too tacky for the genteel tastes of the RHS members who with their stout “sensible” shoes, clutch their admission tickets and shuffle around the gardens every year to get a glimpse of the latest in planty thingies and gardeny accessories.

The lifting of the ban on Gnomes this year resulted in a producer of Gnomes here in New Zealand shipping the “brightly coloured mythical creatures” to Chelsea for Sir Elton John, Dame Maggie Smith, Dame Helen Mirren, Julian Fellowes, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, Rob Brydon and Antonio Carluccio to add additional decoration and their signatures before they went on display prior to the Queen’s visit. Sir Elton proudly took his home and posted pictures of his glittered creation online. This celebrity endorsement led to a flood of gaily-painted mythical creatures appearing on stalls at the show that were purchased, lugged around the show and taken home on the train to the leafy gardens of places like Tunbridge Wells where they are destined to live out their slowly fading lives glaring at the family cat or suffering the indignity of being a target for dogs to pee on.

So love them or hate them, the Gnomes are fighting back as the family in the IKEA ad discovered and I recently discovered this rather grand shiny example that popped up like a fungus in Autumn here in Christchurch. I think it would be a challenge to get this one back to Tunbridge Wells on the train:CHC Chrome Gnome



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