You’ll Never Believe Why Ikea’s Confusing Product Names Actually Make A Lot of Sense

As the reigning manufacturer of affordable furniture, Ikea has built up a loyal customer base of DIY enthusiasts who know a good value when they see it. From bed frames to picture frames and everything in between, the store really does have it all. The only question is, who can remember all those hard-to-pronounce, Scandinavian names? Not us, that’s for sure. Interestingly enough, though, the product-naming process actually makes a lot of sense.

So, if you want to scratch that curiosity itch, stick around as we unpack the fascinating coding system (starting on page 4) behind your favorite Ikea products, along with the surprising reason (page 3) why Ikea uses the naming system in the first place.

There’s a dictionary of confusing Ikea words

Ikea store

Every name means something different. | Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images

Thanks to The Ikea Dictionary, a project by Lars Petrus, non-Swedish-speaking customers can know the real meaning behind the store’s product names. (The project is not affiliated with Ikea.) And according to Petrus, Ikea’s product-naming system is part of what makes the store so unique. “Each name means something, often in a funny or [ambiguous] way,” Petrus says. And when the brand went international, it kept the same Swedish names, regardless of geographic location.

Next: There’s an entire database from which to choose. 

New products are assigned a name from Ikea’s database

Customers stroll during a store opening at the 4th Ikea chain store in Berlin

All the names have a reason. | Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

If Ikea’s confusing names have driven you to the edge of insanity, you’re certainly not alone. However, the store’s complex names are no accident. “Typically, the name is hand-picked from an available database maintained by Ikea of Sweden,” Janice Simonsen, design spokesperson for Ikea U.S., told The Huffington Post. “But sometimes the designer or the product developer will come up with a new name.”

Next: Here’s why the store’s naming system actually makes a lot of sense. 

Ikea’s product-naming system resulted from the founder’s learning disability

Ingvar Kamprad Ikea Founder

The founder had dyslexia. | Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

Once you hear about the founder’s learning disability, the product-naming system actually makes a lot of sense. As opposed to most other retailers, whose products depend on a number system, Ikea employs a naming system for good reason.

Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad had dyslexia, a disorder that affects how a person interprets words, numbers, and symbols. In Kamprad’s case, he had difficulty remembering item codes, so he came up with an easier system — one based on words, rather than numbers. Therefore, all Ikea products fall into a certain category and bear a specific name.

Next: Time to find out about the naming system behind each category. 

Beds, wardrobes, hall furniture

Ikea Malm Bed

Malm is a village in Norway. | Ikea

  • Named after: Norwegian place names
Nesttun is an urban center in Norway. Hemnes is a municipality in Norway. Malm is a village in Norway. And they all have a place in Ikea stores.
Aside from sharing similar geographic locations, Nesttun, Hemnes, and Malm are all names of Ikea beds.

Next: Another category whose naming process is based on geographic locations

Sofas, armchairs, dining chairs, dining tables

furniture collection during a store opening at the 4th Ikea chain store in Berlin

Sofas and armchairs are named after Swedish places.  | Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

  • Named after: Swedish place names

Bedroom furniture isn’t the only category named after places. Sofas, armchairs, dining chairs, and dining tables also share their product names with places on a map. Their names, however, are of Swedish origin.

Next: There are plenty of these products at Ikea.

Bookcases

Ikea Billy Bookcase with doors

The Billy bookcase is named that for a reason. | Ikea

  • Named after: Professions, Scandinavian boys’ names

Need a bookcase? Must go to Ikea.

Everyone knows bookcases are a dime a dozen at Ikea, which means the category requires a plentiful archive of go-to names. From professions to Scandinavian boys’ names, there’s no question the company’s database will never run dry in the bookcase-naming department.

Next: Another category that shares the same system 

Desks, desk chairs, swivel chairs

Micke Desk ikea

The desks also steal boys names. | Ikea

  • Named after: Scandinavian boys’ names

Like we were saying, Scandinavian boys names are aplenty. For that reason, they also share their monikers with desks, desk chairs, and swivel chairs. Because really, there are never enough swivel chairs to go around.

Next: This one makes perfect sense. 

Garden furniture

Ikea ÄPPLARÖ outdoor furniture

The furniture is named after Scandinavian islands. | Ikea

  • Named after: Scandinavian islands

What’s better than enjoying a warm summer night while sipping on a refreshing cocktail, all from your own patio? Not much.

Thankfully, Ikea has you covered with its collection of outdoor furniture, most of which is appropriately named after Scandinavian islands.

Next: This flooring staple will make you think of Denmark.

Rugs

Ikea handmade rug

The rugs are places in Denmark. | Ikea

  • Named after: Danish place names

Every cozy home needs a fuzzy rug, right? Well, we think so. But even if fuzzy rugs aren’t your thing, at least you can rest easy knowing there’s a method to Ikea’s rug-naming madness (because we know you’ve been losing sleep over it). Turns out, Ikea rugs are named after places in Denmark.

Next: Every home needs this.

Lighting

Ikea RANARP lamps

Lights have another naming system. | Ikea

  • Named after: Measurement units, seasons, months, days, shipping and nautical terms, Swedish place names

Lighting products can be technical, so it’s only appropriate that the ones sold at Ikea bear technical names. Measurement units, seasons, and shipping terms are all employed in the database of lighting product names.

Next: How design-inclined are you?

Fabrics and curtains

Ikea curtains

Curtains are Scandinavian girls’ names. | Ikea

  • Named after: Scandinavian girls’ names

If your attention to detail is on par with your money-saving ways, then consider both skills totally top notch. And consider Ikea the perfect place to put them to good use. From budget-friendly curtains to design-inspired fabrics, Ikea has it all. And furthermore, the company has named its fabrics, curtains, and similar products after Scandinavian girls’ names.

Next: There’s a good reason behind this category’s naming process.

Children’s products

Ikea LATTJO children's bed sheets

They’re named after animals. | Ikea

  • Named after: Mammals, birds, descriptive words

Kids have the most insane imaginations, imaginations that should be allowed to run wild. And it’s a fact that Ikea stands behind. Case in point: The company names its children’s products after mammals, birds, and descriptive words, a perfect way to give kids the chance to learn something new.

Next: So many items, so little time.

Kitchen accessories

Ikea green marble placemat

They’re named after fish, mushrooms or descriptive words. | Ikea

  • Named after: Fish, mushrooms, descriptive words

Strolling through the kitchen department is a serious test of willpower. You don’t think you need it, but should you have it? The answer, of course, all depends on just how strong you are, and how committed you are to getting out of the store within a reasonable amount of time. But, we digress.

So, how are kitchen accessories categorized? Turns out, Ikea names these products after fish, mushrooms, and descriptive words.

Next: A wall without decor is quite the bore.

Boxes, wall decoration, pictures, frames, clocks

self-service checkout during a store opening at the 4th Ikea chain store in Berlin

Picture frames are named after Swedish slang. | Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

  • Named after: Swedish slang expressions, Swedish place names

How a person decorates their home really reflects their personality. And Ikea knows that. For that reason, wall decor, picture frames, clocks, and the like have been named by words with personalities of their own. Products within this category are named after Swedish slang expressions, along with places in Sweden.

Next: There’s no shortage of these kinds of products at Ikea.

Bowls, vases, candles, candle holders

Ikea scented candles

The candles are named after herbs, spices and berries. | Ikea

  • Named after: Swedish place names, descriptive words, spices, herbs, fruits and berries

There’s nothing like strolling through the candle aisle and smelling every scent you see. And for good reason, the candle category, which also includes bowls, vases, and candle holders, and its naming-process reflects scent-inspired items, as well. These products are named after herbs, spices, and berries.

So, there you have it. Wonder no more about how Ikea names its products. And good luck putting them all together.

Read more: 6 Reasons Why This Type of IKEA Furniture Is a Waste of Money

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