The Real Reason Why IKEA Products Have Such Weird Names

IKEA is as famous for its ready-to-assemble designs as it is for its product names. Here are the meanings behind some of the legendary retailer’s product names—and the reason late founder Ingvar Kamprad chose them.

Ikea product namesPhoto: monticello/Shutterstock

The Real History Behind IKEA Product Names

You may have thought that IKEA product names were arbitrary choices used to make the furniture seem more Swedish than it is, but there’s actually some reasoning behind them.

For the most part, IKEA adheres to naming things after humans, towns and villages in Scandinavia, as well as various Swedish words, according to the language learning app Babbel. Below is a list of names for some IKEA bookshelves and their meanings:

  • 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

The reason the products have strange names at all was by request of the late founder of IKEA, Ingvar Kamprad. Normally, products are just given random numbers and letters as a “name,” but this posed a problem because Kamprad is dyslexic. By choosing real names instead, it was easier to remember them, and harder to make mistakes when filling out the information on forms.

Beyond the practical use, the names have become an important part of going to IKEA too. It makes the whole place feel a tad more European, which appeals to a global market.

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