Most of us are familiar with the popular Swedish flat-pack furniture company IKEA who have had stores in the UK since 1987. That’s 25 years of getting our tongues around strangely named furniture items and must-have home accessories! Well strangely named to us anyway, if you’re Swedish then these tongue-twisters make perfect sense and don’t pose a problem.
According to Wikipedia, IKEA has a special naming system for their products, which are mostly of Swedish origin. This system was developed by IKEA’s founder Ingvar Kamprad who found proper names easier to remember than product codes due to his dyslexia.
It’s a very straightforward and logical system:
- Upholstered furniture, coffee tables, rattan furniture, bookshelves, media storage and doorknobs have Swedish place names
- Beds, wardrobes and hall furniture have Norwegian place names
- Dining tables and chairs have Finnish place names
- Bookcase ranges are named after occupations
- Bathroom items are named after Scandinavian lakes, rivers and bays
- Some kitchens’ names are derived from grammatical terms
- Chairs and desks have men’s names and fabrics and curtains have women’s names – can we overlook the sexism for great design?
- Garden furniture is named after Swedish islands
- Carpets are named after Danish place names
- Lighting products are named with terms from music, chemistry, meteorology, measures, weights, seasons, months, days, boats and nautical terms
- Bed linen, bed covers, pillows and cushions are named after flowers, plants and precious stones
- Children’s items are named after mammals, birds, adjectives
- Curtain accessories names are derived from mathematical and geometrical terms
- Kitchen utensils’ names are derived from foreign words, spices, herbs, fish, mushrooms, fruits or berries and their functional description
- Boxes, wall decoration, pictures and frames and clocks’ names are derived from colloquial expressions and Swedish place names
Certain ranges are aptly named too:
- Effektiv which translates as effective/efficient in English is a range of office furniture
- Duktig which translates as good/well behaved in English is a children’s toy range
- Skärpt which translates as sharp/clever in English is a range of kitchen knives
- Dinrea which translates as to dine in English is a range of tableware
- Kassett which translates as cassette in English is a range of media storage
However as many multinational companies discover, ‘one name certainly does not fit all’ when it comes to product names. Often what works for one country is totally inappropriate (although amusing) for another.
In IKEA’s case the following product names were not appropriate for English speaking countries and some had to be withdrawn:
- The ‘Fartfull’ workbench
- The ‘Jerker’ desk
- ‘Fukta’ plant spray
- ‘Lyckhem’ (meaning bliss)