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Scandinavian design 101: The Designers You Need to Know

Scandinavian design captured the hearts and eyes of décor lovers around the globe long before IKEA entered our homes. Nordic countries have always had a strong sense of style and appreciation for aesthetics, but it was in the '50s that many Scandinavian designers made a name for themselves on an international scale. 

What Is Scandinavian Design?

Scandinavian design is a design movement that began during the early 20th century and flourished in the 1950s throughout Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland. Scandinavian design is characterized by simplicity, minimalism, and functionality.

These designers' love for clean lines, organic textures, and simple silhouettes made waves on the midcentury design scene, so much so that many Scandinavian midcentury designs are still very popular in homes today. In fact, Scandinavian designs are some of the most coveted and easily recognized furniture designs around the world. Below, our most well-loved Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish furniture designers.

Poul Henningsen (Denmark, 1894–1967)

Poul Henningsen achieved international icon status with a series of lighting fixtures in the '20s when the electric light bulb was still considered a new technology. The PH lamp, Artichoke lamp, and Snowball lamp (shown above) are still manufactured nearly a century later.

Best-Known Work: The Artichoke Lamp

Arne Jacobsen (Denmark, 1902–1971)

Architect Arne Jacobsen was one of the most prolific Scandinavian modernist designers of his time and he sold millions of his plywood Ant Chair. He was influenced by Mies van der Rohe and Charles and Ray Eames, and many of his chair and lighting designs are still sold today.

Best-Known Work: The Egg Chair and the Swan Chair