Ikea walk-through


Jeff Davis tipped me off to this Ikea walk-through. Frustratingly, the walkthrough doesn't include any cheat codes.

Even though Ikea was founded by a Swede, its company colors match the Swedish national colors, all its product names are Swedish, and it is clearly associated with Sweden in the minds of everyone, it is in fact headquartered in Denmark. Probably for tax reasons.

The name of the plastic stool Förby has provided me much entertainment. At first, it was amusingly similar to the name of the annoying toy Furby. And it turns out it's also amusingly similar to the Swedish word "förbi" which means "gone past". (German "vorbei".)

During an evening of sore hands trying to drive screws into wood using a tiny little hex wrench, some friends and I came up with new Ikea product names. Here are a few:

  • Frusträt
  • Flims
  • Instabil
  • Brøkken (okay fine this is Norwegian, not Swedish; I hadn't started studying Swedish yet)
  • Kräp

And, of course, the complimentary twine for tying your packages to the top of your car:

  • Strink

Some of these might even be better than the actual name they came up with for a children's bed.

Comments (29)
  1. Mike Dunn says:

    That last link reminded me that Commodore had to rename the VIC-20 computer when it was sold in Germany, for the same reason.

  2. Some other Raymond says:

    Ikea is the Linux of the furniture world. It’s cheap and works well, but you have to put it together yourself, the instructions are cryptic, and usually half the pieces are missing.

  3. Mike Dunn says:

    There used to be a chain of stores here called "Stør". Not sure what they sold, since I never went in one, but it may have been an Ikea competitor.

    This was parodied on The Simpsons with a fictional store called "Shøp".

  4. Andreas Häber says:

    Nice names :)

    But I’m wondering about this one:

    "Brøkken (okay fine this is Norwegian, not Swedish; I hadn’t started studying Swedish yet)"

    Did you mean "brukket" or something like that? I’ve never heard "brøkken" in Norwegian before :)

  5. J. Peterson says:

    It blows my mind that Ikea doesn’t sell simple power screwdirvers with hex bits in there store. For >$10 you can assemble in 1/3 the time.

  6. In the children’s bed article: "But the Swedish firm’s adverts for the bed were hastily withdrawn from windows"

    Mr. Chen is right, occasionally windows get blamed when it isn’t even their fault.

  7. Raymond Chen says:

    Sorry, Andreas, I meant that Brøkken was *fake* Norwegian instead of *fake* Swedish.

  8. Dan Maas says:

    I saw an Ikea item in a store once called "Billig" (literally "cheap" in German). I believe there might have been a "Teuer" as well ("expensive").

  9. quanta says:

    "it is in fact headquartered in Denmark."

    You sure? According to the Ikea.com FAQ, the owner and franchisor of the IKEA Concept is Inter IKEA Systems B.V., located in Delft, The Netherlands.

  10. Moi says:

    There is a similar company to Ikea in the UK called MFI (cheaper and nastier, I think). In the same way that people joke about IBM meaning "It’s Being Mended" they joke that MFI means "More F*cking Irritation".

  11. Raymond Chen says:

    Phooey, I think you’re right. Ikea is Dutch, not Danish. My apologies to the Dutch and the Danes. (I’m not sure who would be offeneded more…)

  12. Well, Ikea have one headquarter i Helsningborg, near Denmark (25 minutes with boat) an I am pretty shore it´s not only for Sweden.

  13. halo says:

    Dan, "Billig" is probably Swedish in this context, and yes, it means "cheap" in .se too. What you should be looking for is "Dyr", nicht "Teuer".:)

  14. Ebbe Kristensen says:

    Ermm, Raymond. IKEA is neither Dutch nor Danish although they may now be headquartered in The Netherlands. The company was started by Ivar Kamprad in Sweden. Being a student of that language you really ought to know that :-)

  15. I_ng_var Kamprad, swede and former nazi (fill in your own jokes about the bookshlef Adolf and the book case Hermann).

    Of course Ikea’s swedih, it’s colors are blue and yellow.

  16. Raymond Chen says:

    Right, like I wrote originally, "Ikea was founded by a Swede, its company colors match the Swedish national colors, all its product names are Swedish, and it is clearly associated with Sweden in the minds of everyone." My point is that – in spite of all this – their headquarters are not in Sweden.

    Question for German and Swedish-speakers: Does the word "billig" have the same "low quality" connotation that "cheap" does in English? If so, what would be the corresponding word for "inexpensive" (meaning, "low in price, but implying nothing about quality")?

  17. Florian says:

    Yes, it does in German, but maybe not as strong as in English. So it does depend a little bit on the context if you read "low quality" into "billig".

    The corresponding words for "inexpensive" would be "preiswert" or "günstig" (also "preisgünstig" or "kostengünstig").

  18. Elin says:

    ….still don’t get the Brøkken thing, up there…

  19. Raymond Chen says:

    Beklager. I meant that "Brøkken" was fake-Norwegian. All the others are fake-Swedish.

  20. chcheese says:

    And Ingvar Kamprad lives in Switzerland (Canton of Vaud since 1978). Plus at least in Dec-02, he was the richest dude in the country (source: Bilanz 12/2002).

  21. jondru says:

    Incidentally, it’s "IKEA", not "Ikea." It’s an acronym formed from the founder’s first and last names, and the village and region he came from.

  22. Brian Beckman says:

    On the German-obscene, Swedish-town name of the IKEAn bed, I am reminded of a snafu by Max Factor in the 1980’s. They designed a new perfume and had millions of expensive bottles with the name etched in the glass. The name was "Xara", which is close enough to the Arabic word for offal (S*** for you anglo-saxons out there) that the project had to be scrapped. I got a carton of the useless bottles from a friend who worked at Max Factor.

    It turns out that both Spain and Mexico have towns named Guadalajara. The "Jara" in those names is, you guessed it, the same Arabic word. "Guadalajara" means River of Offal, or more properly, dried-up riverbed of Offal, since there are no real rivers in the Arabian desert, where a "Wadi," or, in Spanish, "Guada", is a dried riverbed.

    The town in Spain is supposedly near a place where the Arabic-speaking moors, when they occupied the country, used to take their donkeys for a walk. Sort of like taking your dog for a walk? You really want him to do his business in the Guadalajara and not on your expensive Persian rug in your tent.

    So that’s how the romantic name of Xara was picked by Max Factor — they thought Guadalajara was a beautiful word for romantic locales in Spain and Mexico, and that the last half of that beautiful word could be poetically respelled and turned into a name for a sweet-smelling perfume. Only after investing in the lovely perfume bottles did they discover the deeper history and meaning of all these names.

  23. shattered says:

    IKEA sells various glasses branded SVALKA — see http://www.ikea.com/product_presentation/show.asp?productnumber=00027072&type=III for example.

    SVALKA =~ "dumpster" in Russian :-) Very bizarre.

  24. norse says:

    In Norwegian "billig" can mean low quality. "Rimelig" would mean inexpensive without saying anything about quality.

  25. Raymond Chen says:

    Commenting closes after two weeks. I was slow to close this one.

    http://weblogs.asp.net/oldnewthing/archive/2004/02/21/77681.aspx

Comments are closed.