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Ikea can be criticized for using cheap materials and veneers, but you have to admire its commitment to tasteful furniture design that has — to a fault — raised the baseline aesthetic of the average dorm and living room. In this way it’s helped to democratize design, bringing a sense of bespoke furnishings to people who might otherwise not have been able to afford them. Now the company is on the verge of using its global reach and manufacturing might to do it again — only this time it’s poised to make smart home technology as commonplace as the LED light bulb.

Do you remember a world before Ikea? Let me assure you, it was miserable. Furniture was made from expensive solid wood that was sturdy enough to provide shelter from a Soviet…

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