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What turns a residence into a home?

ILIV wants to understand how people of different cultures turn their residence into their home


It has become impossible to imagine Belgium without its multicultural society, especially in the major cities. Understanding residents and consumers becomes extra challenging in such a complex environment. This was also the case for ILIV, an initiative founded by IKEA which put the importance of having a ‘home’ on the map with studies, analyses, interpretations and trends.

Their objective was to assess and understand the role of a home for people of various origins who live in Belgium. They wanted to gain an insight into the way in which people of different origins turn their residence into their real home.


WHY5Research chose an explorative qualitative approach that allowed complete immersion: researchers were walking in the shoes of respondents, on-site in their homes. Furthermore, a semiotic analysis allowed us to go further and deeper than superficial description. Through this analysis, we were able to capture the meaning of signals and symbols used by people in the creation of a real home.


Our research led to segmentation based on basic motivations towards having a home and the experience of a ‘home’. The diagnostic and semiotic analysis revealed the meaning of various rooms and of elements and symbols that contribute to a person feeling at home.

The most important findings and results were captured in a press release and made available to the public in a publication by ILIV. The latter considered the importance of a real home in the process of integrating people of different origins, their experience of Belgium as a new homeland and the search for balance in identity. A collaboration with photojournalist Mashid Mohadjerin brought the whole publication to life.

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