Discover the Originals
A lot of IKEA’s products are named after places in Sweden. That’s nice, coming from a Swedish company, but it has also caused a great deal of unfortunate misunderstandings. Today, millions of people in the world believe that Bolmen is just a toilet brush – instead of a romantic Swedish lake. And that’s just one example.
In West Sweden, several iconic places unwittingly lent their name to iconic IKEA products. From the archipelago, where the lovely community Skärhamn was turned into a door knob, to the inland lake Åsunden that became famous as a decorative basket. From the shores of Sweden’s biggest lake Vänern, where the baroque castle of Läckö loaned its name to a series of wooden garden furniture, to Gothenburg's popular bathing spot Saltholmen that inspired some foldable tables and chairs.
Photographer: Fedja Salihbasic
It’s time to let the world know that there is a wonderful place behind each of these product names. Each representing a certain kind of landscape or cultural highlight that makes West Sweden unique for travellers. And each is just waiting to be explored.
Here’s a short guide to discover the originals:
The glittering lake ÅSUNDEN – more than just a basket
IKEA describes their hand-woven-seagrass-basket Åsunden as “a piece of nature that takes care of your stuff”. When it comes to the original, the Åsunden lake near the city of Ulricehamn, we would go a step farther: This piece of nature takes even better care of you, offering a “basket” full of outdoor activities and relaxing experiences – just one hour away from Gothenburg.
A 49 kilometre long trail takes hikers and bikers around the lake, including many great views over the glittering water, crossing a varied countryside and passing two nature reserves along the way. And of course you can even discover Åsunden on the water by kayak or canoe. The traditional Kallbadhuset (cold bathing facility), built on pillars some 100 metres out on the lake, is home to an aquatic health experience with an energising spa, bathing area and excellent food.
Stay the night at Hotel Borgesund, with its one front facing Ulricehamn town centre and the other towards the lake making a perfect link between the urbane and nature.
The baroque castle of LÄCKÖ – more than a garden furniture series
IKEA’s garden furniture series Läckö is inspired by traditional wrought iron chairs and promises “more time to daydream”. The original, the site of the 17th century baroque castle Läckö on the shores of Sweden’s largest lake Vänern, is a dream in itself: 700 years of history, uniquely preserved baroque salons and wonderful surroundings including views over the lake.
The nearby Naturum Vänerskärgården – Victoriahuset, a natural history museum about the inland archipelago, also offers accommodation and is home to the restaurant Gastrofär which is provided with vegetables straight from the castle’s garden.
Rent a kayak or canoe and glide serenely through the waters, taking in the scenery and species-rich wildlife. Or discover the new Biosfärleden, a 138 kilometre long trail through the whole UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Vänerskärgården with Kinnekulle. The first section (20 km) starts at Läckö castle and takes you through an archipelago landscape mixed with lush greenery to the peninsula of Kålland. The whole area around Läckö castle is even part of Platåbergens Geopark, Sweden’s first UNESCO Global Geopark.
The artsy seaside village Skärhamn – more than a door knob
On one point IKEA is right: Skärhamn “can make a difference”. Both as a door knob that enhances your interior style and as a sight that adds that certain something to your trip along the Swedish West Coast. That’s because this seaside village on the island of Tjörn is a place where past and present meet.
A picturesque harbour quarter with its red boathouses, salt-sprinkled piers and authentic seafood-restaurants reminds of a time when Skärhamn was Sweden's most important centre for herring fishers. At the same time, the village and its surroundings have become a home of art.
The Nordic Watercolour Museum is a place where art, nature and people come together, exhibiting works of outstanding Swedish and international artists. From here, a 12 kilometre long hiking and cycling trail connects the museum with the Pilane Sculpture Park, an open air exhibition in the middle of the Bohuslän cultural landscape.
Only one hour north of Gothenburg, Skärhamn can easily be reached by public transport.
The boating and bathing spot Saltholmen – more than foldable furniture
For IKEA, Saltholmen – the name of some foldable chairs and tables – is “a favourite for small balconies”. For the people of Gothenburg, however, its namesake rather serves as a favourite to escape precisely these small balconies.
Just a half-hour tram ride away from the centre, Saltholmen is one of the urbanite’s most popular bathing spots. Close to the station you find the swimming area Aspholmen, where you can jump into the salty water directly from cliffs or use the ladders to get in and out.
Those who want to get even further into Gothenburg's archipelago can take one of the island ferries departing hourly. One of them is the completely car-free island of Styrsö, where you can experience peace and quiet on the smooth granite rocks, enjoy fresh seafood and take a salty swim. Another one is Vrångö and its harbour pilot lookout, which offers a commanding panoramic view over both sea and the mainland.