HER purple-streaked hair may make heads turn but what is more amazing about Yanjaa Wintersoul is her mind. For not many people can lay claim to having memorised, down to minute details, all 328 pages of the hefty 2018 catalogue put out by furniture multinational Ikea.
That’s 4,818 items in all to remember and, no, she does not have a photographic memory.
Born in Mongolia, raised in Sweden, schooled in Kenya, and now based in Texas, the United States, 23-year-old Wintersoul is officially known as the Ikea Human Catalogue.
Forget general things like the colour theme or what types of furniture are featured on, say, page 132. It’s more like she can tell you what a group of friends featured on page 32 are eating (answer: Chinese); that there is a grandmother sitting on a recliner on page 176, or the television shown on page 55 features a hockey game on its screen!
There is some good news for the rest of us: Wintersoul was not born with this mind-blowing memory but rather, honed the skill when she was 20 and studying for a degree in business administration.
“I wanted to finish my degree faster than the usual time that people took, which can be four to five years, so that I could start my own learning and language school,” says Wintersoul, when met at the launch of the catalogue in Kuala Lumpur recently.
“I was reading a lot of books at that time and one of it was about a memory champion who was an ordinary guy, and I thought if he could do it, then so could I,” she shares.
Soon Wintersoul started competing in memory competitions. Today, she is a two-time World Memory Champion and the highest-ranked female Memory World Champion.
Memorising the Ikea catalogue, which she did within a week, is her most challenging feat to date.
So how did she do it?
“Many people remember things by rote memorisation but what I did with this catalogue, which you can also use with school work, is make it more fun. If we can create a story to connect the facts, make it interesting to yourself, personalise or relate it to your own life, then it becomes way easier than just repeating and rehearsing,” she explains.
Of course, we had to ask: Does Wintersoul have a favourite piece of Ikea furniture?
She does, and it’s a piece that she grew up with: an army-green swivel chair in her bedroom.
Enhancing the living room
The theme for Ikea’s 2018 catalogue is “Make Room for Life” and it’s about new ways of using your living room to get the most out of it.
“We want to inspire Malaysians to look beyond the constraints of space and make room for the important things in their lives,” says Gerard Jansen, store manager at Ikea Damansara, where the catalogue launch was held.
“We understand that the way people meet, socialise and live has changed, especially in the living room. Hence, our solutions not only cater to functional needs but also emotional well-being,” he says.
Technology has also altered the way people socialise, work and even rest; what’s more, with high-density urbanisation that is creating smaller living spaces, the challenge is how to increase the utility of these spaces.
“What’s important going forward is close collaboration with customers and coming up with solutions and prices that work for them,” says Jansen.
“I think we can help families to be more interactive and make space for their personal selves but at the same time embrace technology and find positive points from it.
“Life is to be celebrated, and we all need to have fun and play, especially children. I think what’s important in 2018 is to try to find ways and means to bring play back into the forefront. And the space to do that the best is the living room,” he says.
If you live in the Klang Valley and haven’t received your 2018 Ikea catalogue yet, get one at the Ikea Damansara or Ikea Cheras stores. The digital version of the catalogue is available online at ikea.my/catalogue and via the Ikea catalogue app.