Scandinavian furniture is one of the most iconic design movements to ever hit the furniture scene in recent times. Known for its minimalist and simple take on your everyday household decorations — the Scandinavian style revolves around the idea of functionality without the razzle-dazzle. It’s safe to say that since its prominence in the early 20th century, people are digging the convenience of Scandinavian furniture both in terms of aesthetics and for everyday use.
And while on the surface it looks easy to replicate — designing Scandinavian furniture is actually an art form that dances around several art concepts such as proportion and color-blending to name a few. Surely enough, a number of talented designers have been able to master the art of Scandinavian decoration. Here is a list of what many consider to be the best Scandinavian designers who have left a lasting mark in the industry then and now.
17 Best Scandinavian Furniture Designers
Poul Henningsen is considered by many of his fellow designers and even the general public as an international icon. Renown all over the world for his famous collection of lighting fixtures, Henningsen’s works continue to be marketed and sold globally even up to this day.
Revolutionizing a design movement for furniture which was fairly new back then (light bulbs were not as popular back then in the 1920s), Henningsen is both an innovator and an artist that sparked the inspiration for many other designers to follow.
Some of Henningsen’s designs can be seen in prestigious institutions such as Designmuseum Denmark and the Museum of Modern Art. One of his most iconic pieces — the Artichoke Lamp — is still being produced today.
Philip Arctander is a name that resounds among a select few. But regardless of the status of his popularity in the furniture design scene — Arctander’s works are highly praised by many admirers.
Like an unsung hero, Arctander’s legacy in designing Scandinavian furniture is still being studied in recent times. However, if there is one iconic Scandinavian furniture piece that is attached to the Danish decorator, it would be the famous Clam Chair. Known for creating affordable housing materials, Arctander’s Clam Chair fetched a relatively cheap price when it first came out.
However, as the years went by — Arctander’s creation soon skyrocketed into a price tag amounting to hundreds and thousands of dollars in the auction market. And since not much is known about the mastermind behind the Clam Chair, a mysterious and beautiful presence surrounds Arctander’s best work.
Arne Vodder was another Danish designer who burst into the furniture scene. Another pioneer in popularizing the Scandinavian furniture movement, Vodder was popularly known for his wooden cabinets and seating furniture.
Training under another prominent Scandinavian designer Finn Juhl, the two decorators collaborated on many projects, eventually reaching an amazing record of over a thousand homes decorated during the span of their partnership. Vodder’s style is commonly described as having beautifully crafted round edges and a creative take on the use of compartments.
From designing tables and desks as well, Vodder’s signature materials of choice are teak and rosewood. Simple yet functional, Vodder’s works with Scandinavian furniture have reached many famous places around the world such as the White House.
Jens Risom was a Danish designer who rose to prominence during the peak of the Mid-century modern design movement, also known as MCM. Considered to be the “first true Knoll designer”, Risom worked with entrepreneur Hans Knoll to launch what is now known as the Knoll catalog — the first 15 pieces of which have been personally designed by Risom himself.
Surrounded by many other prominent designers during his early years, such as having Kaare Klint as his teacher in the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts along with classmate Hans Wegner. Risom was one of the first designers to introduce the Scandinavian furniture design movement to the United States.
Minimalist and true to their Nordic nature — Risom’s designs continue to be celebrated up to the present day with many of them featured as classics in many museums such as the Museum of Modern Art and the Rhode Island School of Design Museum.
Kaare Klint is perhaps the most renowned furniture designer on this list. Beloved by many fellow artists and fans alike, Klint is known to people as the “father of modern Danish Design”.
Establishing the Department of Furniture Design in the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Klint served as an inspiration and an influence on the works of many prominent furniture designers such as Hans Wegner, Arne Jacobsen, and the previously mentioned Jens Risom. First designing at the age of 26, Klint’s style would then improve to create a unique identity of its own.
Described as being functional and simple, Klint blended traditional design techniques with a modern minimalist taste which eventually evolved into Scandinavian furniture design. A few of his most iconic works include the Faaborg Chair and the Safari Chair.
Hans Wegner is considered to be one of the founding pillars of Scandinavian furniture design. To this day, Wegner’s impact on the industry continues to be respected and remembered by designers across all walks of life. Starting off his career in designing at a very young age, Wegner first worked with cabinetmaker H.F. Stahlberg. During his time with Stahlberg, Wegner discovered his expertise in handling wooden furniture that would stay with him for the rest of his legendary career.
While Wegner was a master craftsman of cabinets, it was his chairs that would immortalize his status as one of the best furniture designers of the Scandinavian movement. From iconic designs such as the Peacock Chair, Shell Chair, and the Wishbone Chair — Wegner’s style is described as a clash of traditional and new design styles that put a priority on functionality and minimalism.
Breaking his works down to the very essentials, Wegner’s technique is a true example of the Scandinavian touch. Among many of his legacies, one of which Wegner is adored around the world is his contributions to making expertly crafted furniture affordable and accessible to everybody and not just an elite few.
Verner Panton was a master of interior design. Admired for his contributions to the Scandinavian furniture design scene such as kickstarting a trend of using more unique materials for furniture placements. At the height of his career in the 1960s, Panton innovated on the typical furniture design by mixing in touches of futurism in his works such as the use of plastic and bright colors — which at the time was not as widely practiced. With many of his respected creations, one of the most popular designs is Stacking Chair (also known as the S Chair) which is considered to be the first chair manufactured with injection-molded plastic.
Märta Måås-Fjetterström was a textile artist from Sweden who is most known for founding the famous studio MMF back then in 1919. More than a century later, the studio is still going strong. Thanks to the brilliant guidance and impeccable skill of its late founder. An expert with rugs and other fabric designs, Märta was able to create over 700 designs in the span of her career.
Combining traditional designs with a more modernist take — Märta was a pioneer in many ways. Besides her groundbreaking efforts to enhance the principles of Scandinavian furniture design, Märta continues to be respected by many fellow artists for her women empowerment advocacies. Märta had a preference for employing freshly graduated textile artists and even offering training for local women who had an interest in the art of textile art.
Finn Juhl is a name that resounds in the heads of many designers — not only in the realm of Scandinavian furniture creators but in the entire industry of furniture design as well.
Described by some as being a ‘progressive’, Juhl did not follow the ways of traditional designers such as Kaare Klint. The Danish decorator had a knack for going out of the norm and creating a design that fits his personal taste. This was in part due to his lack of formal training in furniture design — seeing it not as a disadvantage, but as an opportunity for Juhl to be free of any set rules and conditions. The result of this free-thinking approach is a variety of unique and eccentric furniture designs that have been beloved by many all over the world.
Building a number of his designs as if they were ‘floating’ in mid-air, Juhl wowed the public with his brilliant and creative take on Scandinavian furniture. Juhl is credited for many popular creations such as the Pelican Chair, the Chieftains Chair, and the award-winning Baker Sofa.
Josef Frank was an architect originally from Austria, but soon became a Swedish citizen in the latter half of his life. Popular for his creative and vibrant take on fabric designs when he was working with Svenskt Tenn, a Swedish company, Frank’s creations continue to decorate many popular places all over the world today such as The Maidstone in New York. With Frank’s long list of achievements, he has racked up many titles such as being the co-creator of the Vienna School of Architecture.
Public housing was Frank’s expertise during his career. Functionality is what mattered the most for Frank and it surely does speak in his Scandinavian-inspired decorations. One of the most popular fabrics he designed during the span of his prestigious career as a designer is the Teheran Linen cushion.
Kai Kristiansen is a designer of Scandinavian furniture who has been in the industry since the 1950s. Showcasing decades’ worth of experience to the table, Kristiansen has consistently improved his design style for the better. Starting off at the age of 26, Kristiansen continues to craft artistic pieces to this day.
Initially taking up an apprenticeship in cabinetmaking, Kristiansen eventually moved on to complete his education at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts — with renowned designer Kaare Klint being one of his teachers during his stay. His most known work is #42 Chair, also known as the Z-Chair, which perfectly describes Kristiansen’s Scandinavian style of stripping the design down to its most basic and aesthetic elements.
Ole Wanscher is considered to be one of the original designers of the Scandinavian Design movement during its peak in the age of Mid-Century Modernism. Learning the essentials of furniture design from famous artist Kaare Klint during his stay in the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Wanscher has produced many pieces that designers nowadays consider to be ‘modern classics’.
Primarily using materials such as mahogany and rosewood in his works. Wanscher is commonly described as preferring the traditional style of Scandinavian furniture. He was also influenced by the artistic styles of many cultures such as those of the Greeks and the Chinese.
In fact, Wanscher’s most prominent work called the “Egyptian Stool” which as the name implies, is inspired by the art and design style of Ancient Egypt. After Klint’s death in 1955, he was chosen as his successor as a professor in the Academy of Fine Arts which Wanscher himself had been a student before.
Børge Mogensen was another designer who first started his career in furniture design as a cabinetmaker. Renowned to many as one of the few important heads of the Danish design movement, Mogensen was another brilliant product of master designer Kaare Klint’s mentorship.
A designer who had a taste for connecting traditional and modern takes in his works, Mogensen first pleased fans of the more classic take on furniture design. However, early on, Mogensen slowly integrated hints of a newer and modern twist to his creations.
Having won the hearts of furniture lovers from both sides of the coin, Mogensen completely captivated his audiences with an excellent craftsmanship technique that he has developed during his outstanding career — one that was inspired by many other furniture design greats that would eventually catapult Mogensen into a seat among the best of the best.
Poul Kjærholm was a Danish designer who pioneered a whole new take on what Scandinavian furniture design is. Starting of his remarkable career as a simple cabinetmaker’s apprentice — Poul climbed his way to the top of the furniture design industry with a preference for the unique and the creative.
Winning the much-coveted Lunning Award for his most famous work, the PK22 chair — Poul was recognized by both his fellow artists and the public alike as a groundbreaker for the traditional materials used in Scandinavian furniture.
Opting for unusual materials back then, commonly using steel, Poul’s work is described as mashing together traditional and uncommon styles to make a minimalist creation which is booming with creativity.
Paavo Tynell was a designer from Finland who is respected for his work on lighting fixtures and lamps. Considered to be one of the kickstarters of electrical lighting design in his country, Tynell had an endearing nickname from his admirers — ‘the man who illuminated Finland’.
First dabbling in careers such as a blacksmith and a jewellry designer, Tynell eventually found his calling in creating beautiful and intricate designs in his famous works. Nature was what inspired Tynell the most in coming up with decorations for his furniture. A lot of his designs can be seen with familiar patterns of shells, snowflakes, and even leaves.
One of his most famous pieces, the ‘Snowflake’ series, continues to be one of the most sought-after designs all over the world. Tynell also has many famous collaborations during his career as well such as working on the lighting fixtures of the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the Parliament House of Finland.
Arne Jacobsen was a versatile Danish designer who could basically do it all. Considered to be one of the most profitable furniture designers during his time, Jacobsen is without a doubt a hit among critics and the general public.
Also respected for his major contributions to architectural functionalism, which places a high importance on the purpose of furniture, Jacobsen’s works were highly sought after by many people all over the world. Having a career as an architect as well, most of his furniture designs that he is most remembered for were actually part of bigger architectural projects he was involved with.
Surprisingly, Jacobsen does not like calling himself a ‘designer’. His style is described as being very detail-oriened with hints of inspiration from fellow designers such as the Italian design historian Ernesto Rogers.
Besides his mastery of the Scandinavian design style, Jacobsen was adored for his attention to proportion and scaling in his works. Injecting a bit of modernism into his design style as well, he is most known for works such as the Ant Chair and the Egg Chair which have even made it into popular media.
Greta Magnusson-Grossman was a Swedish furniture designer who expressed the Scandinvaian technique in her works to perfection. One of the few female designers to gain widespread popularity back then during the height of the design movement in Los Angeles, Greta beautifully blended influences from her European roots to her Californian inspirations to create a design style that still leaves people at a loss for words.
Greta also made her presence known in different practices such as interior design, architecture, and even industrial design as well. Her drive for success started early on when she took up an apprenticeship in a workshop in Helsingborg where she was the only female artist. She is quoted as saying, “to be a step ahead or else”.
Combining her will to create with a natural creative taste, Greta has a collection of many famous works to her name. But she is most known for the iconic Grasshopper Lamp which is still considered by many designers of the present day to be one of the most famous Scandinavian furniture design pieces to ever come out.