How IKEA Products Get Their Crazy-Sounding Names

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

IKEAFotograFFF/Shutterstock
For 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:

Bookcase Translation
Billy Scandinavian Boy’s Name
Hemnes Town in North Norway
Liatorp Village in South Sweden
Laiva Finnish Word for “Ship”
Brimnes Town in South Sweden
Brusali Place in Norway
Avdala Town in Sweden
Galant Swedish Word for “Gallant”
Bestå Swedish Word for “Remain” or “Consist Of”
Kallax Swedish 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.

Become more interesting every week!

The Reader's Digest "Read Up" Newsletter

We will use your email address to send you this newsletter. For more information please read our privacy policy.