Ready to assemble furniture (another name for flatpack if your in the states!), has become so popular because it satisfies several basic needs. From basic social needs, such as the need to prove to visitors to your home how good your furniture taste is, through to more self gratifying needs such as proving to your self how good you are at making things!
I was watching a neighbour the other day trying to somehow get a huge antique wardrobe into his house. The wardrobe was obviously originally made for some Victorian mansion that had big doors to accommodate such furniture. At least with ready to assemble furniture we can now easily carry it into our homes. Ok, we still have the flatpack assembly to contend with, but at least we know we can easily get the furniture into our homes without removing windows and walls.
The development of ready to assemble furniture also means we can get really stylish furniture for relatively low costs. The explosion of this type of furniture is a little bit similar to the low cost/high fashion clothing trend where consumers are happy to trade off aspects of quality for cost in return stylish products that will last long enough to be in fashion but will probably be out lived by the Victorian antiques described above.
Ready to assemble furniture can cause arguments with partners and waste weekends when it comes to assembling it, but if you don’t mind getting frustrated with annoying instructions, contorting yourself around MDF, and rebuilding things several times because you missed something out earlier, ready to assemble furniture can make you feel like DIY god once you step back and admire your work.