How IKEA Products Get Their Crazy-Sounding Names

“I’ll take one Hemnes bookcase, please.”

IKEAFotograFFF/ShutterstockFor many people, IKEA is the one-stop shop for clean, simple, and affordable furniture. The Swedish furniture store certainly makes it easy to navigate through their stores and set up their furniture, but the one thing that isn’t so easy—pronouncing their products’ names.

Experts at the language-learning app Babbel did some research into how IKEA products get their crazy-sounding names. The reason each product isn’t just given a random arrangement of numbers and letters is because the founder of the store, Ingvar Kamprad, was dyslexic and would often make mistakes when working. By giving each product a specific name, it was easier for him to remember them, and he didn’t make as many mistakes when filling out information on forms. (This is the story behind how IKEA got its name.)

However, each product isn’t just assigned a random Swedish term. The company actually aims to name the products after Swedish towns and villages, humans, and other applicable Swedish words.

Here are some English translations of some IKEA bookcases:

BookcaseTranslation
BillyScandinavian Boy’s Name
HemnesTown in North Norway
LiatorpVillage in South Sweden
LaivaFinnish Word for “Ship”
BrimnesTown in South Sweden
BrusaliPlace in Norway
AvdalaTown in Sweden
GalantSwedish Word for “Gallant”
BeståSwedish Word for “Remain” or “Consist Of”
KallaxSwedish Locality

Even though it might be difficult to pronounce some of these products when asking an employee for a certain couch or lamp, shoppers tend to like the foreign names because it gives the store a European feel. So try your best to pronounce them, and if you can’t get it right, blame it on the fact that you’re still chewing on one of their delicious meatballs.

Next, try these IKEA furniture hacks that you can DIY.

Popular Videos

Morgan Cutolo
Morgan is an Associate Editor at Reader’s Digest. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2016 where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. She writes for rd.com, helps lead the editorial relationship with our partners, manages our year-round interns, and keeps the hundreds of pieces of content our team produces every month organized. In her free time, she likes exploring the seacoast of Maine where she lives and works remotely full time and snuggling up on the couch with her corgi, Eggo, to watch HGTV or The Office.