Sweden reclaims place names from IKEA

CNN  — 

Bolmen: your toilet brush. Toftan: your trash can. Misterhult: your bamboo lamp. Those exotic-sounding names that IKEA gives your household products are familiar words to Swedish speakers – often, they’re named after famous destinations.

And now, the Swedish tourist board is reclaiming those names in a new marketing campaign, designed to get people knowing the elegant originals, as well as the knock-offs.

That toilet brush, for example, is named after Bolmen, a pretty, tree-fringed lake in the Småland region of southern Sweden.

And that trash can? Toftan is another beautiful lake – this time in the Dalarna region in the center of the country. Misterhult, meanwhile, also in Småland, is an enchanting archipelago of 2,000 islands – or a lamp.

The campaign, called Discover the Originals, has collated 21 popular IKEA products and matched them to their namesakes, in a bid to make the originals as iconic as the products which have nabbed their names.

Nils Perrson, chief marketing officer of Visit Sweden, said that he didn’t begrudge IKEA the names.

“We are proud of IKEA and, in a way, you can say that they helped us make Swedish places world-famous through the names they borrowed for their products,” he said in a statement.

But he added that now was the time to “show the originals behind the product names.”

Bolmen is a beautiful lake, say locals, not just a toilet brush.

Not least because, such is the power of IKEA, a simple online search for these locations will usually pull up the product listing before anything related to the place.

Kallax, for example, is more than an IKEA shelf – it’s a stunning seaside spot in Swedish Lapland, famous for its particularly pungent fermented herring. And the forest of Höljes – known to IKEA fans as a lamp – is in fact one of the least populated areas of Sweden.

There’s even a UNESCO-protected area in there – Bodviken, a mountain lake in the protected High Coast area of northern Sweden. IKEA has it as a washbasin.

‘More than a toilet brush’

For the campaign, a sign reading “Welcome to Bolmen: more than an IKEA toilet brush” was erected on the lakeside.

A spokesperson for Visit Sweden told CNN: “The towns in the vicinity are very proud of this initiative to claim back the lake from being known as an IKEA toilet brush and are fully behind it.” 

“We do appreciate that IKEA has named a product for our beautiful lake… But now we would like to show the world that Bolmen is so much more than an item with which you clean your toilet,” said Magnus Gunnarsson, a local councilor, in a statement.

The campaign is promoting Misterhult, an archipelago of 2,000 islands.

“It is an incredibly beautiful place, much loved by us locals. We would like to invite the whole world to spend time in our wonderful, unspoiled natural environment, showing the same care we do and enjoying the crystal-clear water.”

A spokesperson for IKEA told CNN: “It is definitely time for some of the places whose names are used for some of our most popular products to also get some attention. They have earned it, to say the least.

“It is also great fun with an initiative that helps spreading the story behind some of our product names to the many people.”

The 21 places Sweden is “reclaiming” from IKEA are as follows:

• Bolmen, a large lake in the Småland region of southern Sweden (or toilet brush)

• Järvfjället, a mountain in Swedish Lapland (or gaming chair)

• Ektorp, a suburb of Stockholm (or a sofa)

• Skärhamn, a fishing village on the island of Tjörn (or door handle)

• Stubbarp, a town 300 miles south of Stockholm (or cabinet legs)

• Kallax, a village near Luleå in Swedish Lapland (or storage shelf)

• Höljes, a forest in the Värmland region (or pendant lamp)

• Hemsjö, a village in the Blekinge region (or candle)

• Toftan, a lake in the Dalarna region (or trash can)

• Mästerby, an historical battleground on the island of Gotland (or a stool)

• Voxnan, a river with waterfalls and rapids in the Hälsingland region (or shower shelf)

• Himleån, area of ravines in the Halland region (or bath towel)

• Laxviken, a pretty village in the Jämtland Härjedalen region (or cabinet door)

• Ingatorp, a historical village in Småland (or extendable table)

• Misterhult, a 2000-island archipelago near Kalmar in Småland (or bamboo lamp)

• Vrena, a village near the east coast in the Sörmland region (or countertop)

• Björksta, a village close to Uppsala (or picture frame)

• Norberg, a small town in Västmanland region (or folding table)

• Askersund, a town near Örebro in central Sweden (or cabinet door)

• Rimforsa, a small village in the Östergötland region of east Sweden (or work bench)

• Bodviken, a mountain lake in the UNESCO World heritage area of the High Coast in northern Sweden (or washbasin)