The Breakfast in Bed Café is a desperate cry for help – Ikea should stick to meatballs and sofas

Why I hate the pathetic prescribed quirkiness of Ikea's new bed-based coffee house.

Sign Up

Get the New Statesman's Morning Call email.

I have a recurring nightmare in which my bed has been teleported into the middle of a park or a shopping centre – or pretty much anywhere public with me still in it. I dive under the duvet, but I can hear the muffled expletives of hundreds and hundreds of people, who are a bit startled that an Ikea Malm with a person on it has appeared out of nowhere. They’re freaking the hell out and so am I. A crowd is gathering around my bed. “No, no, no, no, no…” I say to myself until I wake up in the infinitely glorious privacy of my bedroom.

This is my customised version of the classic teeth falling out or public nudity anxiety dreams. I have those too, but the bed one is far more memorable.

So when I say that Ikea’s pop-up breakfast in bed café is quite literally my worst nightmare, I’m not exaggerating. The idea behind the latest in a string of East London “concept cafés” (read, buildings in which flat whites are funnelled into idiots) is that you’re served your morning coffee and croissant in a bed, in a room full of other people in beds.

Bed is the closest thing I have to a religion. And I can tell you this: publicness is the antithesis of bedness. Bed is a state of mind in which you shun the outside world. Bed is misanthropic to its core. Bed is… God? The idea of being in bed in front of strangers is sacrilege. It’s a hog roast at a Bar Mitzvah, a Dawkins in a Mosque, a cake in a skip.

Here's Ikea's ad for the café:

Bed is also where you cultivate your own stink. Who wants to snuggle down, and eat, in a shrine to someone else’s grossness? Plus, Ikea has actually managed to defeat the entire purpose of breakfast in bed by turning it into shower, get dressed, put on make-up, commute, then have breakfast in bed.

But it’s not just Ikea’s brutal campaign against the sanctity of Bed that bothers me. The company’s breakfast in bed café, which opened for three days this week in Shoreditch, is within short walking distance of two similarly twattish establishments, one serving only cereal (if you didn’t catch the internet going into a full-blown meltdown over that last year, you missed out) and the other specialising in porridge. Porridge. You know, that bland oaten mulch that’s only one step up from gruel?

Within the context of the housing crisis, these concept cafés (even pop-up ones) are starting to seem like a sick joke. Are creative agencies having a competition to see who can turn an internationally sought-after property into the stupidest thing? The Ikea café, in particular, is something straight out of the mind of PR woman pastiche, Siobhan Sharpe. Or, in reality perhaps, some bastard called Hugo – who, oh my God, just pisses ingenuity – who gets paid six figures to imbue massive corporations like Ikea with a sense of cosiness. Ikea’s bed experiment may have only lasted three days, but it seems to me like a warning of things to come.

Anyway, post-Ikea breakfast in bed café, Hugo is on a roll, so watch this space for an HSBC petting zoo ice cream parlour. Or a GlaxoSmithKline afternoon tea sauna. Concept cafés are a cry for help from a city that’s quickly losing touch with reality. There’s something desperate about the prescribed quirkiness of these places. “LOVE ME,” says the Ikea café, the Frankenstein’s monster of a company that should really stick to making meatballs and sofas.

London, I hardly think you’d mourn my departure, but I need you to know that I’m one more concept café away from moving to the Outer Hebrides and starting up a commune for bitter lesbians. 

Eleanor Margolis is a freelance journalist.