By continuing to use the site you agree to our Privacy & Cookies policy

Your browser seems to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser.


Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.


Oppressing the Danes. With flatpack furniture

The most entertaining story by far in the papers is that of veiled Swedish neo-imperialism, quashing the spirit of neighbours in Denmark. And the battle tactics involve not the warships of yore, nor even the default UEFA points of last year; this time it’s IKEA.

In a deliciously cerebral and insidious move, the undermining of Danes is occurring even in the homes of millions of unsuspecting buyers, via the naming of Ikea’s product range. We’re all familiar with Ikea’s products (stop pretending), which are named rather than anonymously numbered, to suit their bright, cuddly and personable image. However, everything is political, even the friendliest of flatpack furniture. The Daily Mail reports on a study conducted at University of Copenhagen. which revealed that while other Nordic countries - Sweden, Norway and Finland – lend their words and place names to prestige products, for example the Stockholm sofa, or the Lillehammer bed, those named after Danish towns are less than glamorous.

Toilet seats, rugs, and doormats are providing the new semiotics of scorn; for example, you might rest your rear on an Oresund in the WC, which though lovely, is less than flattering to the beautiful Danish Oresund bridge; Niva in Denmark is not even worthy to give its name to an ornamental rug, being instead a roll of carpet underlay.

However, there’s no real danger of re-enacting the Battle of Lund; according to both the Danes and the Swedes, this is all in the tradition of neighbourly japery, ongoing for millennia. And in fact the Oresund bridge is one that links a harmonious transnational region, so perhaps ascribing symbolism to the aforementioned toilet seat is a tad overexcited.

As the Independent quotes from Troels Mylenberg, Danish academic, 'There’s always been conflict between the Nordic countries as to who’s the brightest, the funniest, the sportiest. In the past we were killing each other; now it’s brotherly teasing'. Good job, as we hear flatpack battleaxes don’t grind down too well.

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment.

The searchable digital buildings archive with drawings from more than 1,500 projects

AJ newsletters