Ikea is known around the world for its affordable take on modern design, its meatballs, and, to non-native Swedes, for its unpronounceable product names. Cirkustält! Isfjorden! Kråkskar! Strange combos of consonants and vowels coupled with a wealth of unfamiliar diacritical marks make shopping at the Scando superstore a hilarious journey, pretty much every single time.
Getting completely lost in the language is half the fun, but those who want to sound like locals can now get smart by clicking around at Ikea in Swedish; the single-serving site offers a quick audio clip of the actual way to say a selection of names. “The main idea was to make it functional,” Alex Norling tells Co.Design. He’s one of a quintet of friends–including Gabriella Svensk (who provided the authentic voice and whose surname actually means “Swedish” in Swedish), Sara Uhelski, Kyle Wailin, and Rigel Bowen–who came together from their respective creative careers to do a little public service for the tongue-twisted masses.
It took about a month to develop the concept and pull the simple sound board together; items were chosen by their relative popularity but also by their inherent “weirdness.” They’re considering adding more due to popular demand and potentially expanding to include definitions as well. Because these aren’t, in fact, nonsense words–each is an actual term with an English translation. The multinational team explains that Ikea’s founder, Ingvar Kamprad, used real words to make the inventory easier to understand (for Swedes, that is…), and Wikipedia has an interesting breakdown of the different categories and conventions used. Now, next time you and your pals stock up on home essentials, you can impress them with your perfect pitch and impeccable tone.