These IKEA Product Names are Insulting Denmark

They look like friends, but there’s a fierce, mostly friendly, rivalry between Danes and Swedes, including hidden insults in IKEA's product names.


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If you ask them Danes will tell you they think the Swedes are self-righteous and the Swedes will tell you Danes are irresponsible. It's part of a long-running exchange of barbed comments between the two. But Sweden took it to a whole new level when they used the global flat-pack furniture giant IKEA to launch the ultimate smackdown.

A quick history lesson to explain: Between 1448 and 1790 the two were at war 34 times resulting in Sweden winning independence from the Danish monarchy and eventually becoming the dominant economic and political player in the region (think ABBA, and Volvo).

In more recent times the war has been waged on the football pitch, (including this game in 2007 where a Danish player punched a Swedish opponent, then a Danish fan ran onto the Pitch and tried to punch the referee) or on Twitter as this hilarious exchange in 2016 shows.

Swedes and Danes will tell you it’s not really hatred, just friendly mocking and teasing among a family. The governments do talk about being “brother nations”. But we all know how brothers can fight, right?

Still, it came as a surprise when a contributor to The World Nomads Podcast revealed that Swedish flat-pack furniture giant IKEA names all its floor coverings and rugs after Danish towns, which Maddison Clarey explains is actually a somewhat snarky insult.

So is it true? Well, yes! Several people have done a cross-check of all 12,000 IKEA products and found more than 90% fit this structure:

  • Bookcases are Swedish occupations
  • Dining tables and chairs are Finnish and Swedish places
  • Bathroom storage and accessories are named after Scandinavian rivers and lakes
  • Desks and chairs are given men's names
  • Fabrics, materials, and curtains are given women's names
  • Bed linen, covers, pillows, and cushions are plants, flowers, and precious stones

The Norwegians get a little niggle aimed at them with big chunky objects such as hall furniture, beds, and wardrobes named after Norwegian places.

But the biggest joke is reserved for the Danes.

If this IS a family joke it sounds like the kind that could start a real punch-up at a Scandinavian Christmas gathering!

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