Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Impress Your Friends--the Code Behind IKEA Product Names

Do you sometimes get the feeling that IKEA is playing a wry Scandinavian joke on all of us non-Swedish speakers, and piling up a bunch of letters and odd symbols into completely random, meaningless "names" for their products? Well, sorry to disappoint you conspiracy theorists out there, but there is an actual organized system behind the names. 

When Ingvar Kamprad started the company, I guess he realized that flat-pack, do-it-yourself furniture and housewares was enough of a radical idea already, so he rejected the idea of just assigning a stock number to each item.  He instead gave each a name based on a Scandinavian place, man's or woman's proper name, or other common expression.  And here is the breakdown of how the names are classified:

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Business Insider

Link to article:

Excerpt: "Where do these crazy names come from? It turns out they are part of a system created by dyslexic founder Ingvar Kamprad, who wanted to avoid relying on numbers.
Here's the system:
  • Upholstered furniture, coffee tables, rattan furniture, bookshelves, media storage, doorknobs: Swedish placenames
  • 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
  • Fabrics, 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
  • 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 place names
Fascinating, right? Unfortunately, this system is so complex and has so many exceptions that even Swedes may be mystified — though they will find it easier to understand the humor in many names."

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