Travel Miscellany

The hidden Swedish gems behind those weird IKEA product names

Bolmen, Järvfjället, Skärhamn, Kallax and Toftan. For years now the world has marvelled at and struggled to pronounce, IKEA product names*. What most don’t realise is that the global furniture giant often names their wares for real places in Sweden. Now Sweden wants to invite the world to visit these fantastic locations.

What does a toilet brush and a beautiful Swedish lake have in common? They both share the same name, but for years Bolmen has been better known as a toilet brush sold by global furniture giant IKEA, INSTEAD of a picturesque lake in southern Sweden. Sweden is campaigning to reclaim its fantastic locations across the country and help travellers discover the Originals.

From stunning national parks to beautiful buildings, 21 iconic places across Sweden have inspired the names of well-known and loved furniture and household items. However, this has resulted in visitors to the country missing out on experiencing the stunning gems of Sweden as online searches of these iconic spots reveals towels, sofas, and waste bins.

With over two thirds (68%) of travellers seeking a European escape next year[1], Visit Sweden has taken action to reveal the truth behind these often-funny sounding Swedish product names to offer travellers more opportunities to explore the country.

“In Sweden, 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. Now we want, with warmth and a twinkle in our eye, to show the originals behind the product names and invite the world to discover the whole of Sweden,” says Nils Persson, Chief Marketing Officer, Visit Sweden.

With its varied and spectacular natural environment, nearly 270,000 islands and 95,700 lakes, generous Right of Public Access (‘Allemansrätt’), rich culture and long history, Sweden offers a smörgasbord of destinations and memorable experiences. These include everything from Viking monuments to picturesque towns, castles, and silver mines, with activities from white-water rafting to dog sledding, fly-fishing and ice swimming.

One such place is lake Bolmen, located in a scenic corner of the province of Småland, not far from Agunnaryd where IKEA’s founder, Ingvar Kamprad, grew up. Here visitors have ample opportunity to enjoy the gorgeous natural surroundings canoe, hike and bike on trails, or pick mushrooms and berries. As a part of this campaign Bolmen is launching a new slogan: ”Bolmen – more than an IKEA toilet brush”.


“We do appreciate that IKEA has named a product for our beautiful lake and that Visit Sweden is bringing global attention to this. But now we would like to show the world that Bolmen is so much more than an item with which you clean your toilet. 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.” Says Magnus Gunnarsson, Chair of Smålands Sjörike and municipal council member in Ljungby.

Other examples of places highlighted by this campaign include Järvfjället in Lapland, which offers grand outdoor experiences including hiking and cross-country skiing on trails alongside Lapland’s unique fauna. The picturesque fishing village Skärhamn, on the island of Tjörn, is where one can enjoy freshly-caught seafood and experience international art at Nordiska Akvarellmuseet. The coastal town of Kallax in Norrbotten, where you can cruise between thousands of small islands during summer nights lit by the midnight sun, as well as partake in one of Sweden’s more “aromatic” culinary traditions during the town’s annual fermented herring parties. And lake Toftan in Dalarna, where art lovers can paddle a canoe the length of the lake before visiting the house on the lakeside in nearby Sundborn, once owned by artists Karin and Carl Larsson, known and loved for their impact on Swedish interior design.

21 places reclaimed by Sweden:

  • Bolmen, a large lake in the Småland region of southern Sweden (toilet brush)
  • Järvfjället, a mountain in Swedish Lapland (gaming chair)
  • Extorp, a suburb of Stockholm (sofa)
  • Skärhamn, a fishing village on the island of Tjörn off the coast of West Sweden (door handle)
  • Stubbarp, a manor house in the Skåne region of southern Sweden (cabinet legs)
  • Kallax, a coastal village near Luleå in Swedish Lapland (storage shelf)
  • Höljes, one of the most sparsely populated areas in Sweden, a forest in the Värmland region (pendant lamp)
  • Hemsjö, a village in the Blekinge region (block candle)
  • Toftan, a lake in the Dalarna region (waste bin)
  • Mästerby, an historical battleground on the island of Gotland (a step stool)
  • Voxnan, a river with waterfalls and rapids in the Hälsingland region (shower shelf)
  • Himleån, ravines in the Halland region (bath towel)
  • Laxviken, a rural village in the Jämtland Härjedalen region (cabinet door)
  • Ingatorp, A village where you´ll find one of Sweden’s oldest wooden buildings, in the Småland region (extendable table)
  • Misterhult, an archipelago of 2,000 islands near Kalmar in the Småland region (a bamboo lamp)
  • Vrena, a village near the east coast in the Sörmland region (countertop)
  • Björksta, a village close to the university town of Uppsala (picture with frame)
  • Norberg, a small town in Västmanland region (folding table)
  • Askersund, a small town near Örebro in central Sweden (cabinet door)
  • Rimforsa, a small village in the Östergötland region of east Sweden (work bench)
  • Bodviken, a mountain lake in the UNESCO World heritage area of the High Coast in northern Sweden (washbasin)

For more information and inspiration for the 21 reclaimed locations, click here.