I found the text below in a website and I'm trying to understand the meaning of IKEA in the context:

Technically, this kit allows you to follow an IKEA-like manual and put together a guitar, functionally identical to a cheap guitars of well-known-brands-we-won't-mention here for a fraction of their price.

I found these two definitions for it:

IKEA Ingvar Kamprad Elmtaryd Agunnaryd (Swedish home furnishings retailer; derived from founder's initials and hometown)

IKEA I Know Everything Already

...but none of them seems to make any sense to me.

  • 6
    I think it's worth noting that this verbiage was used in a customer written review and not in official website copy, denoting a more casual usage. Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 21:48
  • "IKEA-like manual" can be rewritten as "a manual like those by IKEA".
    – Mast
    Commented Oct 4, 2019 at 11:16

3 Answers 3


IKEA is just the brand name, or business name, of a global business; it's a name just like "Apple" or "Google" or "John's Grocery Store".

A person who founds a business can give it any name they want (so long as no-one else legally controls that name). The founder of IKEA was a Swedish businessman called Ingvar Kamprad. He made up the name by using his own initials (i.e. the initial letters of his first and last name) and then adding on the first letter of the farm where he grew up (Elmtaryd) and then the first letter of his home town (Agunnaryd). Hence, the made-up name is "I-K-E-A".

The IKEA brand has developed its own particular styles of furniture and furniture assembly and even instructions. The IKEA-brand instructions generally involve no words but very clear drawings on how to assemble the furniture, step-by-step. As a result, many people will refer to "IKEA-style" to mean - for instance - furniture that is delivered packed in a box (as a "flat-pack"), ready for the buyer to assemble it themselves, or even to the instructions.

The IKEA-style instructions for your guitar would therefore mean instructions that are clearly laid out, step by step, probably with clear drawings but few words.

  • 9
    Relying on pictures, rather than words, also allows the instructions to be followed without need of translation. Great when exporting internationally. Commented Oct 2, 2019 at 3:08
  • 1
    Some people (not me) would probably dispute the fact that the drawings are "very clear" :-)
    – jcaron
    Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 15:11

IKEA furniture is sold as kits. Most buyers save money by assembling the furniture themselves. Most of the instructions are in the form of pictures, with no words.

A typical page of IKEA instructions:  Steps 4-5 of the Billy bookcase

  • 13
    Trivia: It's not just the self-assembly that makes the products cheaper. The lack of words in the instructions means that IKEA don't have to pay to have the instructions translated. The only text is the numbers, and Arabic numerals are used in a great many languages. This allows IKEA to sell the same product in a huge number of countries without any changes. It's also been argued that the need to be able to present the assembly procedure visually acts as a check on how complex it can be, which makes IKEA products accessible to a wider range of people in terms of experience and education. Commented Oct 2, 2019 at 14:41
  • 5
    @anaximander - I was under the strong impression that the main thing that makes their products cheaper was their invention and total exploitation of the "flat pack" concept - which has implications throughout their manufacturing chain, retail operations, and delivery to customers.
    – davidbak
    Commented Oct 2, 2019 at 22:11
  • 6
    @anaximander Translation is a once-off cost per product, assembling and transportation of bulky items is an ongoing cost. IKEA would save far more from eliminating assembling and bulky items than eliminating translation.
    – CJ Dennis
    Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 5:02
  • 3
    @CJDennis, even though it's a one of, they reduce the need for a thick pamphlet in all languages. Also if the alternative was to have localized only in the selling country, they now can reroute furniture between countries depending on demand since nothing is localized. Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 8:04
  • 2
    Viktor is right. Logistics people are really, really attached to the concept of a SKU (Stock Keeping Unit). Localizing products per region means that you have a SKU per product, per region. For a company the size of IKEA, that is a lot of SKU's to deal with.
    – MSalters
    Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 14:05

It's just an example of what the manual looks like. i.e. it can be compared to the looks of an IKEA manual. They could probably have written LEGO-like, but went with a brand that is (more)known for their self-assembly manuals, that is without any words but clear illustrations.

To illustrate: IKEA:




  • 22
    That's an interesting analogy, but I probably would have been more confused had the author elected to use LEGO-like instead of IKEA-like. (When I think of LEGOs, I think of interchangeable parts that can be put together in a myriad of ways, whereas an IKEA bookshelf is designed to be assembled into one thing and one thing only.) Still, I think your answer is potentially helpful and illustrates the point you are trying to make rather well.
    – J.R.
    Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 14:19
  • 9
    @JR If you buy a LEGO set with instructions it's also intended to be assembled into one specific thing. You can obviously use the bricks anyway you like, but that's technically true of the parts for building a bookcase from IKEA too. Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 16:00
  • 3
    @AnthonyGrist - Right, but as you say, the bricks can be – and often are – used however we'd like. (I suspect my kids were not the only ones whose Millennium Falcon blocks ultimately ended up in the giant Lego bin with all the other bricks, and that's why I think the author's original IKEA analogy works better.)
    – J.R.
    Commented Oct 2, 2019 at 5:44
  • 10
    Note: To deviate from the IKEA-instructions is NOT recommended, while deviating from the LEGO-instructions is actually something to encourage ;)
    – MeanGreen
    Commented Oct 2, 2019 at 13:18
  • 3
    @AnthonyGrist, some Lego sets also come with instructions to build more than one specific thing out of the same parts. (At least some did when I was kid.)
    – ilkkachu
    Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 8:35

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