About Scandinavian design

Functionality and Aesthetics: How Scandinavian Design Has Left its Mark on the History of Furniture and Decoration 

Scandinavian design emerged at the turn of the 20th century and flourished from the 1950s onwards in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland. It embodies elegance through simplicity, minimalism, and functionality.

Scandinavian creators, known for their ingenuity, have built an international reputation by specializing primarily in everyday objects. From furniture to textiles, ceramics, lamps, and glassware, each creation reflects a commitment to clean lines and practical utility.

Poul Henningsen - 1930 Alvar Aalto - 1936 Timo Sarpaneva - 1960 LM Erikson - 1954 Poul Kjearholm - 1960

Over the years, Scandinavian design boldly extends its reach to other horizons, expanding its influence beyond the boundaries of homes. This evolution encompasses the field of industrial design, consumer electronics, mobile phones, and even cars.

This is how Scandinavian design, with its unique combination of discreet aesthetics and pragmatic functionality, transcends eras and borders.

From the 1930s to the 1970s, we speak of vintage Scandinavian design, with an original production of pieces designed by young designers who later became masters, such as Hans Wegner, Arne Jacobsen, Finn Juhl, or Borge Mogensen.

Starting from the 2000s, there is a revival of Scandinavian design known as contemporary Scandinavian design, featuring young brands that draw inspiration from the figures of Scandinavian classicism while bringing in modernity in production and marketing methods. Brands like Gubi, Hay, Muuto are now influential and inspiring forces in the world of contemporary design.

MUUTO - 2007 Johanna Gullicshen - 2010 NAVER COLLECTION - 2020 Stine Weigelt - 2017 HAY - 2023 




The history of Scandinavian design has its origins in England, where the initial foundations were laid in the 19th century, closely linked to the industrialization resulting from the Industrial Revolution. During this period, furniture production diverged into two distinct paths: mass production and craftsmanship.

In 1914, the Selskabet for Dekorativ Kunst (Danish Society of Decorative Arts) launched its magazine, "Œuvre Gracieuse." This publication became the emblem of a new Danish artistic and artisanal movement, extending to both objects and architecture, with the aim of competing with Art Nouveau and Viennese Jugendstil.

Regency chair 19th Century Rungstedlund chair 1967 Windsor chair 19th Century Peacock chair 1947

From the 1930s and 1940s onward, a cohort of young designers, such as Alvar Aalto for architecture, furniture, and textiles, Arne Jacobsen, also an architect specializing in seating, Borge Mogensen and Hans J. Wegner, both trained cabinetmakers, Verner Panton, a pop creator of plastic lighting and furniture, and Poul Henningsen, a master of lighting, come together to generate a true "golden age of Scandinavian design."

Simultaneously, Scandinavian textile artists gained renown in the early 20th century with their shaggy carpets, while brightly colored Scandinavian textiles saw increasing popularity in the Western world after World War II.

The pinnacle comes with the Lunning Prize, awarded to two prominent Scandinavian designers between 1951 and 1970. This prestigious prize contributes to solidifying the recognition of Scandinavian design as exceptional products with a distinct artistic profile.

In 1954, the Brooklyn Museum organized the major exhibition "Design in Scandinavia," marking the beginning of a notable furniture trend called "Scandinavian Modern," firmly establishing itself in America. Scandinavian design, far from being confined to furniture and household items, successfully extends into the realm of industrial design, encompassing consumer electronics, mobile phones, and cars.

Since the 1950s, the concept of Scandinavian design has been at the center of academic debates, exhibitions, and marketing discussions. Many debates focus on the democratic ideals inherent in the style, constituting a central theme of the movement.

However, this seemingly uniform movement takes on distinct aspects in each of the Scandinavian countries, linked to their respective pasts and cultures.

Hans Wegner Borge Mogensen Nanna Ditzel

In Denmark, 🇩🇰 Danish design stands out as a functionalist style of design and architecture that emerged in the mid-20th century. Influenced by the German Bauhaus school, many Danish designers embraced new industrial technologies, skillfully merging simplicity and functionality to create iconic buildings, furniture, and household items. Notable creations include Arne Jacobsen's Egg chair, designed in 1958, and Poul Henningsen's PH lamps, created in 1926, which remain essential references to this day.

After World War II, Denmark provided particularly favorable conditions for success in the field of design. Although the initial focus was on furniture, this trend extended to other areas such as architecture, silverware, ceramics, glass, and textiles. Its rich artisanal history imparts a traditional dimension to its production, characterized by high-quality standards.


 JL Møllers workshop


In Finland, 🇫🇮 design extends to various fields such as clothing, technical design, furniture, glass, lighting, textiles, and household products. The emergence of the "Design from Finland" label in 2011 attests to the importance placed on this form of artistic expression.

Among the prominent Finnish designers, a multitude of talents stand out. Architect Alvar Aalto excels in vases and furniture, Aino Aalto distinguishes herself in glassware, Paavo Tynell works on lighting, Klaus Haapaniemi shines with fabric prints, and Simo Heikkilä excels in the field of furniture. Other notable figures include Kristina Isola in textiles, Maija Isola with Marimekko prints, Harri Koskinen in glass and household items, Mika Piirainen in clothing and accessories, Timo Sarpaneva in glass and home goods, Tapio Wirkkala in glass art and glassware, and Eero Aarnio in plastic furniture.

Alvar Aalto and Paavo Tynell

In Sweden, 🇸🇪 design is celebrated for its minimalism, emphasizing functionality and clean lines, particularly evident in the field of furniture. The country is renowned for its traditional craftsmanship, highlighting glasswork and Sami craftsmanship. Swedish design pioneers include graphic designer Anders Beckman, furniture manufacturers Bruno Mathsson, and String Furniture with its famous modular furniture system, the String System.

Sweden is home to several organizations dedicated to promoting design, such as Svensk Form, the Swedish Society of Crafts and Design, founded in 1845. The Swedish Industrial Design Foundation, known as SVID, and the Swedish Arts Council also play essential roles. Lastly, the Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design, located on the island of Skeppsholmen in Stockholm, near the Museum of Modern Art, serves as a central hub for the exploration and celebration of Swedish design.

Bruno Mathsson chair Nils Strinning


In Norway, 🇳🇴 design is characterized by a pronounced minimalist aesthetic, highlighting creations centered around lamps and furniture. The key characteristics emphasized in these works include sustainability, beauty, functionality, simplicity, as well as natural forms.

Among renowned Norwegian furniture designers, notable figures include Hans Brattrud, Sven Ivar Dysthe, Olav Eldøy, Olav Haug, Fredrik A. Kayser, and Ingmar Relling, whose contributions have left a significant mark in the field of Norwegian design.


Fauteuil 711 bFredrik Kayser 1960 Ingmar Relling seating in the Siesta chair 1965

Design Scandinavian Design Icons

Scandinavian design has given rise to a set of iconic symbols that have redefined the aesthetic and functional standards of furniture, chairs, lighting, and ceramics. These pieces, often created between the 1930s and 1970s, continue to evoke admiration and fascination for their timeless elegance and ingenuity.

Discover four significant icons of Scandinavian design: Arne Jacobsen's Ant Chair, Hans Wegner's Kennedy Armchair or Round Chair, Kay Bojesen's Monkey, and Poul Henningsen's Artichoke Pendant.

The Ant Chair by Arne Jacobsen

The Ant Chair was designed in 1952 by the Danish architect and designer Arne Jacobsen. It is made from a single molded plywood shell, narrowed at the waist and placed on three legs, giving it an ant-like shape. The Ant Chair was created for the cafeteria of the pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk in Copenhagen. It was intended to be light, easy to stack, and space-efficient. Since its inception, it has continuously been produced by Fritz Hansen and is available in various finishes with either three or four legs

The round Chair by Hans Wegner

The "Round Chair" was designed in 1949 by the Danish designer Hans Wegner. The armrests, seamlessly extending from the backrest, are assembled to form a circle, hence the nickname given by Wegner: the Round Chair. In 1960, John F. Kennedy chose it for his televised debate against Nixon because it was the only seat in which he did not suffer from back pain. The Round Chair then gained worldwide recognition. Originally produced by Johannes Hansen until the early '80s, it is now reissued by PP Møbler.

Kay Bojesen's Monkey

The Monkey was designed in 1951 by the Danish designer and silversmith Kay Bojesen. Fully articulated and assembled without any screws, its hands and feet are shaped like hooks because Bojesen originally intended to make it a small coat rack for children's rooms. The Monkey is the first of the extensive family of animals in the zoo created by Bojesen. It perfectly embodies Bojesen's motto: smile, always smile. Originally made in teak under the KAY BOYESEN license, it is now reissued in walnut by Rosendahl.

Poul Henningsen's Artichoke Pendant 

The Artichoke Pendant was designed in 1957 by the Danish designer Poul Henningsen, acclaimed as the architect of light. It is composed of 72 copper leaves arranged like artichoke leaves, hence the name. The light is thus diffused and never glaring. The Artichoke Pendant was originally developed for the Langelinie Pavilion restaurant in Copenhagen, where they can still be admired today. Since its inception, it has continuously been produced by Louis Poulsen and is available in various sizes and materials.

The major brands of Scandinavian design

Galerie Møbler brings together the biggest brands of vintage Scandinavian design and contemporary Scandinavian design.

Carl Hansen and SønPP MøblerLouis PoulsenAnd TraditionFredericia, NaverHAYKvadratStringDK3Innovation LivingJL MøllersNorthernSoftlineLe KlintFeelgood designsLK Hjelle, NikariGetama,  Woodnote, et bien d’autres.

Sofas lighting

JL Møllers - Danish chairs Wall systems

DK3, wall systems and furniture Danish Furniture

Carl Hansen - Danish Furniture Danish Furniture

Finnish Furniture Danish Furniture

See others scandinavian design brands


Scandinavian design greatest designers biography


Finn Juhl

Børge Mogensen

Cecilie Manz

Poul Kjearholm

Arne Jacobsen

MDD Nissen & Gehl

Poul Cadovius

Piet Hein

Greta Magnusson Grossman

Suède (1906-1999)

Kai Kristiansen

Poul Henningsen

Yngve Ekström

Sweeden (1913 - 1988)

Josef Frank

Gunnar Nylund

Hans J. Wegner

Denmark (1914 – 2007)

Alvar Aalto

Niels O. Møller

Nils Strinning

Sweden (1917 – 2006)

Ole Wanscher

Grete Jalk


See others Scandinavian designers biography