Popular daily Nyhedsavisen led the charge on Valentine’s Day with a front page headline accusing Ikea of “bullying” Denmark.
Why is it, the paper wondered, that Swedish and Norwegian place names are always associated with the shiniest, comfiest furnishings in the Ikea catalogue, while the names of Danish towns are reserved for doormats, rugs and carpets?
“It seems to be an example of cultural imperialism,” Klaus Kjøller, Assistant Professor in Political Communication and the Danish Language at the University of Copenhagen, told The Local.
“Ikea has chosen the objects with the lowest value and given them Danish names,” he added.
Doormats and rugs such as Köge, Sindal, Roskilde, Bellinge, Strib, Helsingör and Nivå are all “seventh class” citizens in the hierarchical world of Ikea furnishings, according to Kjøller.
“Ikea is a very professional company. I don’t think this can be a coincidence,” he said.
But according to Ikea spokeswoman Ylva Magnusson, that is exactly what it is.
“It has never been our purpose to name carpets in a way that would be considered negative by anyone,” she told The Local.
While expressing regret that anyone might have taken offence, Magnusson stressed that “it is just a coincidence that it happened to be carpets that were given Danish names.”
But Klaus Kjøller is not convinced.
“It’s hard to imagine it’s not intentional,” he said.
In an unrelated but interesting aside, the Copenhagen academic also pointed out that “it is exactly 350 years since the Swedes took the Halland, Skåne and Blekinge regions from Denmark.”