The IKEA Code

I always won­dered how they came up with the names for prod­ucts at IKEA. I found out today that appar­ent­ly they had ‘cracked the code’ , or at least found the pattern(s) for the names. So the next time you see a JERKER or JONKOPING named prod­uct, check your cheat sheet with the nam­ing stan­dards, now in Wikipedia:

IKEA prod­ucts are iden­ti­fied by sin­gle word names. Most of the names are either Swedish, Dan­ish, Finnish or Nor­we­gian in ori­gin. Although there are some notable excep­tions, most prod­uct names are based on a spe­cial nam­ing sys­tem devel­oped by IKEA.[2]

  • Uphol­stered fur­ni­ture, cof­fee tables, rat­tan fur­ni­ture, book­shelves, media stor­age, door­knobs: Swedish pla­ce­names (for exam­ple: Klip­pan)
  • Beds, wardrobes, hall fur­ni­ture: Nor­we­gian place names
  • Din­ing tables and chairs: Finnish place names
  • Book­case ranges: Occu­pa­tions
  • Bath­room arti­cles: Scan­di­na­vian lakes, rivers and bays
  • Kitchens: gram­mat­i­cal terms, some­times also oth­er names
  • Chairs, desks: men’s names
  • Mate­ri­als, cur­tains: wom­en’s names
  • Gar­den fur­ni­ture: Swedish islands
  • Car­pets: Dan­ish place names
  • Light­ing: terms from music, chem­istry, mete­o­rol­o­gy, mea­sures, weights, sea­sons, months, days, boats, nau­ti­cal terms
  • Bed­li­nen, bed cov­ers, pillows/cushions: flow­ers, plants, pre­cious stones; words relat­ed to sleep, com­fort, and cuddling
  • Chil­dren’s items: mam­mals, birds, adjectives
  • Cur­tain acces­sories: math­e­mat­i­cal and geo­met­ri­cal terms
  • Kitchen uten­sils: for­eign words, spices, herbs, fish, mush­rooms, fruits or berries, func­tion­al descriptions
  • Box­es, wall dec­o­ra­tion, pic­tures and frames, clocks: col­lo­qui­al expres­sions, also Swedish placenames

For exam­ple, DUKTIG (mean­ing: good, well-behaved) is a line of chil­dren’s toys, OSLO is a name of a bed, JERKER (a Swedish mas­cu­line name) is a pop­u­lar desk, DINERA (mean­ing: dine) for table­ware, KASSETT (mean­ing: cas­sette) for media stor­age. One range of office fur­ni­ture is named EFFEKTIV (mean­ing: effi­cient), SKÄRPT (mean­ing: sharp or clever) is a line of kitchen knives.

A notable excep­tion is the IVAR shelv­ing sys­tem, which dates back to the ear­ly 1970s. This item is named after the item’s designer.

Because IKEA is a world-wide com­pa­ny work­ing in sev­er­al coun­tries with sev­er­al dif­fer­ent lan­guages, some­times the Nordic nam­ing leads to prob­lems where the word means some­thing com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent to the prod­uct. A well known exam­ple was the bed frame GUTVIK. As the word can be pro­nounced Goot­fick it invites Ger­man-speak­ing peo­ple to under­stand it like gut fick which is some­what close to “good fuck” in German.

Com­pa­ny founder Ing­var Kam­prad, who is dyslex­ic, found that nam­ing the fur­ni­ture with prop­er names and words, rather than a prod­uct code, made the names eas­i­er to remember

How about that! Well, now I can go to an IKEA with­out scratch­ing my head so much.

10 Replies to “The IKEA Code”

  1. This explains so much now.…I’ll have to remem­ber this next time I need anoth­er ‘Not’ to go near my ‘Lack’.

  2. Isn’t that cute? They’re right.. all the staff who speak the lan­guage will know instant­ly what the item is, even if they aren’t famil­iar with the style.

  3. good post..
    nan­cy, Bil­ly prob­a­bly comes from the scan­di­na­vian word Bil­lig (the G isn’t pro­nounced).. it means “cheap”..
    Man­go the Fruitarian..

  4. The book­case ranges is not only from occu­pa­tions. Bil­ly is acu­tal­ly a swedish male name. You will find some oth­er exam­ples that don´t fit the “code”, but basi­cal­ly the list is ok. Many of the prod­uct names are very fun­ny and cre­ative. Even a swede like me, gig­gle when shop­ping at IKEA

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