What is Scandinavian design?
An interior aesthetic characterised by: a proximity to nature, both in organic forms and materials; uncluttered, functional objects and spaces; warmth and a sense of community and family. It is a design ethos originating largely in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland. It combines aspects of these countries' national characters with the ideals of Modernism and the postwar democratisation of design. Below you will find some of our favourite designers, brands and items that embody Scandinavian design.
Wooden furniture in graphic, rounded geometric shapes.
As one of the great architects and furniture designers of the 20th century, Finnish designer Alvar Aalto breathed life and warmth into modernism, placing emphasis on "organic" geometry; supple, natural materials; and a respect for human feeling. He was responsible for many of the most iconic public buildings of Finland.
After expanding his architectural practice into furniture in the 1930's, Alvar and his wife Aino founded Artek, to manufacture and distribute his designs. The famous Artek 60 Stool remains an undisputed classic of Scandinavian design.
Lighting with complex arrangements of shades, to shape the light and shield the bulb's glare.
Poul Henningsen is an integral figure in lighting design and architecture. His work focused on humanity's relationship with artificial light, and he laboured tirelessly to create fixtures with exactly the right proportions of light, shadow and colour.
He is said to have designed the first 3-shade system light at his mother Agnes' request - she had complained that the new electric bulbs gave out a harsh light that was unflattering to her complexion.
In addition to industrial design, Henningsen also worked as an architect, journalist, writer and even designed pianos. His main legacy remains the PH series of lights however - look into a random window in Copenhagen today, and you're likely to see his work, just as you were 50 years ago.
Bold, graceful and carefully-proportioned seating, using innovative materials.
Arne Jacobsen was born in Copenhagen at the turn of the last century and started as an apprentice bricklayer before winning a place to study architecture at the Royal Academy of the Arts in 1924. While a student, Jacobsen travelled to Paris for the ground-breaking 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs, winning a silver medal for a chair design.
By the late 1950s, Jacobsen took full advantage of an opportunity to put his theories of integrated design and architecture into practice in the design of the SAS Air Terminal and Royal Hotel in Copenhagen, where the iconic Egg, Drop and Swan chairs originated.
Chairs that push the boundaries of traditional materials.
With his love of natural materials and his deep understanding of the need for furniture to be functional as well as beautiful, Hans J. Wegner (1914-2007) made mid-century Danish design popular on an international scale. His creations are characterised by graceful, flowing lines.
He began his career as a cabinetmaker in 1931 and subsequently entered the Copenhagen School of Arts & Crafts.
He was dedicated to the design of chairs, creating more than 500 over the course of his career; he came eventually to be known as "the Master of the Chair".
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