EVERYONE LOVES A BARGAIN, as long as we believe it’s in good taste. And nobody does low-price, high-style better than IKEA, the world’s largest furniture retailer. IKEA passes as the anti-Wal-Mart: a company where value and good values coexist. It uses design as a proxy for quality, and its brand—embodied by all those smiling, white-teethed Scandinavians standing next to smooth, shiny modular furniture with unpronounceable names—as a passport to a guilt-free world of low prices.
But put down your 59-cent Färgrik coffee mug and ask yourself: Can we afford to keep shopping at places where an item’s price reflects only a fraction of its societal costs?