If Gandalf and Frodo were to throw a house warming party for their Hobbit friends and your invitation went astray in the mail, fret not. Just pay a visit to your nearest IKEA store.
There you can mingle with Smyg and Brada, Mandal and Rykene. Rub shoulders with Ulsberg, Billsta and Duktig. Relax with Malm and Birkland. Conversation would be a little limited but I’m sure they’d make attentive listeners if you want to be on first name terms with furniture.
Once you get past the Troll-like names of the desks, chairs tables and beds you can see why IKEA has made Ingvar Kamprad (he’s the founder, not a table lamp) one of the wealthiest people in the world, if not the wealthiest – ahead of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet.
IKEA has become known the world over for affordable, contemporary design. Almost all IKEA products are designed to for flat packaging, which reduces shipping costs, minimizes transport damage, increases store inventory capacity, and makes it easier for customers to take the furniture home themselves, rather than needing delivery.
Bizarre product nomenclature has become a motif of the brand.
Kamprad, an 84-year-old Swede who is reportedly dyslexic, found that naming the furniture with proper names and words, rather than a product code, made the names easier to remember.
A common theme for all of the different types of furniture is that they are all single word names of Scandinavian origin.
Beds have Norwegian place names; seating and dining tables have Swedish ones. Your Klippan sofa is named after a town in the southern countryside.
Dining chairs and dining tables are named after Norwegian place names. Along the same lines, carpets are named after Danish place names. Garden furniture is named after some of the Swedish islands. Girls’ and boys’ names are used for fabrics, some office furniture and shelving. You might have met unassuming Billy the bookcase.
So there is method in IKEA’s apparent madness. But with 10,000 products to name, the Nordic languages can be tricky with a global audience to cater to.
A desk named “Jerker” was pulled from the catalog after word got around the company that the name was causing more than a few smirks outside of Sweden, where there the nation’s Jerkers (it’s a male name) are happily oblivious to the amusement they were providing IKEA customers in New Jersey.
And then there was the unforgettable Fartfull workbench, a boon to the flatulent handyman everywhere. Alas, no longer available; gone to the same way as the Fukta plant spray.
For those who have ever wondered how you would be introduced as a piece of Swedish furniture, wonder no more. Your quest is at an end. Take a look at the Swedish Furniture Name Generator.
- Meet The Swede Who Intentionally Lost $17 Billion Last Year (businessinsider.com)
- IKEA Launches Virtual Furniture, Makes Your Desktop More Swedish (techland.time.com)
- Furniture shops: The secret of IKEA’s success (economist.com)
- How IKEA is structured to minimize tax and maximize control (economist.com)
- IKEA’s Shrewd & Secretive Ascent to the Top The Economist (apartmenttherapy.com)