Anyone who’s furnished their first post-college apartment knows that Billy is really the name of a bookcase and Klobo and Poäng are the bachelor or bachelorette’s living room seating of choice. But just how do big retailers arrive at names like these? IKEA, the mother of all furniture retailers, is a special case. Founder Ingvar Kamprad is dyslexic and found that naming certain kinds of furniture after certain places helped him remember them. Beds, wardrobes and hall furniture, for example, are named after Norwegian cities, while upholstered furniture, coffee tables and media storage are named after Swedish places. Bookcases, on the other hand, are named after occupations, with the exception, oddly enough, of the Billy.
Most companies use the name game as an opportunity to conjure of certain imagery or an emotional response in their customers. Anthropologie, for instance, chooses names that fit in with their “boho-chic” aesthetic. The Bodhi desk and the Kasbah coffee table “evoke images of supermodels trekking across the globe in faux-vintage sunglasses and pre-faded, lace-up boots.”
Room & Board, on the other hand, takes a decidedly more masculine, or at least gender neutral approach with collections like the Cameron, Barton and Townshend. They also play to their clientele’s literary side with the Holden, Harper and Hawthorne. And for those who prefer Hollywood glamour to books there’s the Hutton, Dean, Orson and Maddox.
Of course, Crate & Barrel is no stranger to the fame name game either. Their upholstery buyer says she named a winged chair Astaire “because it’s covered in soft, shimmery leather that reminded me of an elegant ball gown; an old-school, iconic dancing reference.” Ball gowns and leather may have as much in common as dancing does with sitting in a chair, winged or otherwise, but we get it. It’s refined, luxurious and tasteful enough for Fred Astaire himself to recline in after a long day of dance practice. We’ll take two.