The History Behind the Names of IKEA's Products

Going through the showroom is a great way to learn all of the IKEA product names
Going through the showroom is a great way to learn all of the IKEA product names | © Joey / Flickr
Photo of Whitney Wasko
Stockholm Hub Writer12 September 2018

Have you ever wondered what Hemnes is? Or where Malm come from? These are probably some thoughts that you have had while strolling through an IKEA trip. Well, there’s a method to the madness behind the crazy names and it involves a lot of Swedish! Read on to find out more about the history behind the names of IKEA products.

Going through the showroom is a great way to learn all of the IKEA product names | © Joey / Flickr

A method to the madness

As you may or may not know, Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of IKEA, was dyslexic. Due to his dyslexia, Kamprad thought that naming his furniture with more practical names would be easier to remember for himself and for others. Since Kamprad is Swedish, many of the products are named after Swedish words and places. However, there are quite a few product lines that are named after places in Norway, Denmark and Finland.

Knowing the names of products can be helpful when shopping through the warehouse! | © Bram Souffreau / Flickr

Decoding the names

There is a key to the names of some of your favorite IKEA products. Looking to spruce up your bathroom? Expect to see the contents of the bathroom being named after Swedish lakes and bodies of water, like Boasjö and Jansjö. Blomma and Guldlin are names you would find within bed textiles since those are named after flowers and plants. Children’s products are named after mammals and birds, like Ekorre, which means squirrel. Purchasing new garden furniture? Those items will be named after Scandinavian islands, such as Björnholmen and Hultö. Fish and mushrooms, otherwise known as Fisk and Svamp, are typically things that one would find in a kitchen, so naturally kitchen accessories are named after those.

There is no shortage of Scandinavian names throughout IKEA products. While some bookcases are named after professions, desks, chairs, and swivel chairs are named after Scandinavian boy names like Gustav, Hannes, and Torbjörn. Whereas curtains and fabrics are named after Scandinavian girl names, like Aina, Hedda and Sigrid.

As a nod to Sweden’s friendly neighbors, names of products are also extended to the rest of Scandinavia. Beds, hall furniture and wardrobes are named after town and cities in Norway such as Asker, Ulsberg and Klubbo. The rugs at IKEA are named after places in Denmark, so expect to see names like Hellum, Elverdam and Nysted. Finland rounds out the Scandinavian neighbors with having dining tables and chairs named after places like Pello, Bredskär and Harola.

Now, many of the product names can overlap with one another, which can make things a tad confusing. Adjectives and Swedish places are prevalent in a wide variety of IKEA products and it would be nearly impossible to name them all. Bowls, vases, candles and candle holders are all named after Swedish places, adjectives, spices, herbs, fruits and berries. Lighting, for example, is named after Swedish places, in addition to being named after units of measurement, seasons, months, days and nautical terms. Boxes, wall decorations, pictures, frames and clocks are also named after Swedish places, but also Swedish expressions. To make a long story short: there is a theme with a lot of the products, but there is a large amount of overlap.

The next time you visit IKEA, be sure to let your friends know that they may be holding a product named after a place in Denmark, a Scandinavian name, or even a name of an animal in Swedish.

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