Image from the IKEA France Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/ikea.france

French advertising agency Ubi Bene wanted to show Paris residents that IKEA furniture was the ideal solution for their small-space living. So they set up two 581-square-foot apartments in the middle of a Métro station. In one of the apartments, they installed five roommates, to show what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real. (Assembled Parisians: “What’s polite?”)

For a week, passersby could watch the roommates sleeping, eating breakfast, and doing whatever else young Parisians do (mime, cheese-eating, Impressionist paintings). Gawkers could see how innovative space-use solutions made even super-dense living — with five people, in a small apartment, in the middle of a subway station — pretty livable indeed. (The other, vacant apartment was set up as a display area for interested parties to wander around and take notes.)

Obviously, this is the very definition of a marketing gimmick. But it’s a pretty cool one as these things go, and the main point goes well beyond IKEA’s utility for college kids and divorced men. Regardless of where you buy (or how you make) it, thoughtful space use can let you enjoy the benefits of density without feeling the pinch. And speaking of the benefits of density … do you think these apartments are for rent? Because talk about public transit-accessible.