Happy, carefree shoppers at the IKEA store in Slependen, Norway, went in expecting to find a cute new coffee table, a nice bedspread, or a couple of picture frames to put around their TVs. What they found instead was something entirely unexpected. The customers walked right into one of the most powerful campaigns for Syrian refugee awareness that they’d ever seen, one that clearly shows the appalling living conditions of refugees.
Furniture company IKEA worked with the Norwegian Red Cross and POL, an advertising agency, to install a replica of a Syrian home inside one of their stores. The room is actually an exact replica of one in Damascus, which belongs to a woman named Rana and her nine-member family. The installation, which you can walk through as with any other room in IKEA, is called “25 m2 of Syria”; it is only 25 square meters for ten residents. “When we had to flee to this area to find safety, we did not have enough money to rent a better place. We have no money to buy mattresses and blankets, or clothes for the children,” Rana said to the Norwegian Red Cross.
The house also includes the iconic IKEA tags on the “furniture,” but instead of product descriptions, the tags tell the stories of Syrian refugees who are forced to deal with shortages of their most basic needs every day, such as water, food, and medical equipment. Every single one of the tags also includes a call to action- there is a link for donations for customers who would like to do more to contribute to helping refugees in Syria.