Ikea Just Made One of Its Loveliest Ads Yet About the Beauty of Everyday Life

Mother London's charming visions

Ikea drives home the notion that little things mean a lot—and ultimately aren't so little—in "Wonderful Life," an evocative 90-second ad from Mother London.

We start with a young couple apparently painting psychedelic designs across the walls of a fantastical studio space back in the swingin' '60s.

In fact, they are doing no such thing.

It's quickly revealed that while the action may be taking place 45 years ago, they're really just painting the walls of their first apartment. The studio scene represents how painting a modest room felt to them at the time. It was that special—simply unforgettable.

This pattern repeats as we follow the trajectory of their lives through middle and old age. A backyard badminton victory becomes a mixed-doubles win at Wimbledon. Buying a car is tantamount to competing in a Grand Prix race. An anniversary dance feels like performing on a Broadway stage.

Their shared experience, though ordinary, brims with personal triumphs and private joys. Nothing's insignificant. For them, life has been pure magic. Each memory shines.

"It was our first opportunity to talk about what we mean by 'The Wonderful Everyday'—Ikea's philosophy," Mother creative director Tim McNaughton tells AdFreak. "As we explored different ideas to bring it to life, we came to feel that if you're asking someone to connect with this kind of life philosophy, you can't really do it in a glib or tricksy way. Visual metaphors felt a little hollow when we wanted people to genuinely reflect on their own lives, and speaking to their emotions felt like the only way we could really do that."

Indeed, the clip has a markedly heavier vibe compared to Mother past efforts for Ikea, which have ranged from a monkey-driven "Jungle Kitchen" to stylized storybook animation.

With the new spot—part of a multimedia push breaking this week across the U.K. and Ireland—"It's not like we sat down and said, 'Let's make people cry.' Not at all," McNaughton says. "I wouldn't know where to begin trying to do that."

Even so, "Wonderful Life" has a dreamy, melancholy feel from the start, punctuated by Gary Freedman's understated direction and a yearning, soulful soundtrack from Penny and the Quarters (the song "You and Me," which was also used in the film Blue Valentine).

A poignant final twist puts the message in sharp perspective. It's a powerful and in some ways poetic turn, one that really stays with you after the spot ends. (You will tear up!)

All in all, this is pretty intense stuff for a furniture commercial. But that's the whole point. Through expert storytelling, and wisely keeping the focus almost entirely off the Ikea brand, "Wonderful Life" manages to bond with its audience on a decidedly deep level.

"We honestly never saw it as that much of a risk," McNaughton says. "What we've always tried to do for Ikea is start with a truth that people can connect with, then bring it to life in as surprising a way as we can. I feel like this film stays true to that as much as any we've done."

Here, that mission is fully accomplished, as we see ourselves reflected in the characters on screen. We're reminded that details of our daily routine—even stuff that seems trivial, like buying bookcases, beds, desks and chairs—can acquire layers of meaning as we assemble our lives.