Founded in 1943 by 17-year-old Ingvar Kamprad in Sweden, the company is named as an acronym comprising the initials of the founder's name (Ingvar Kamprad), the farm where he grew up (Elmtaryd), and his home parish (Agunnaryd, in Småland, South Sweden).
IKEA products are identified by single word names. Most of the names are Swedish in origin. Although there are some notable exceptions, most product names are based on a special naming system developed by IKEA.
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
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
For example, DUKTIG (meaning: good, well-behaved) is a line of children's toys, OSLO is a name of a bed, BILLY (a Swedish masculine name) is a popular bookcase, DINERA (meaning: (to) dine) for tableware, KASSETT (meaning: cassette) for media storage. One range of office furniture is named EFFEKTIV (meaning: efficient, effective), 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 worldwide 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. While exotic-sounding names draw attention, e.g., in anglophone countries, a number of them call for a snicker. Notable examples include "Jerker" desk, "Fukta" plant spray and "Fartfull" workbench.
Also, the most recent new product, Lyckhem (meaning bliss). The products are generally withdrawn, probably after someone pointed at blunders, but not before generating some news. Similar blunders happen with other companies as well.
IKEA's founder, Ingvar Kamprad, was once a Nazi:
In 1994, the personal letters of the Swedish fascist activist Per Engdahl were made public after his death, and it was revealed that Kamprad had joined Engdahl's pro-fascist New Swedish Movement in 1942. Kamprad had raised funds for and recruited members to said group at least as late as September 1945.