Scandinavian Design 101: The Designers You Need to Know

Updated 05/02/18

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

These designers' love for clean lines, organic textures, and minimal shapes made waves on the midcentury design scene, so much so that many Scandinavian midcentury designs are still very present in homes today. In fact, Scandinavian designs are some of the most coveted and easily recognized furniture designs around the world. Keep scrolling for a comprehensive list of our most well-loved Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish furniture designers—and pick one to include in your own space.

Kaare Klint

Scandinavian Design
Courtesy of Another Ballroom

Denmark, 1888–1954

Kaare Klint is widely known as the father of modern Danish furniture design. The son of an architect was plunged into the design world early on, designing his first piece of furniture at the age of 26. Throughout his long and fruitful career, he shaped many other Danish designers such as Børge Mogensen and Jens Risom.

Best-Known Work: The Safari Chair

Kaare Klint Safari Chair $1195
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Poul Henningsen

Scandinavian Designers
Christian Shaulin for Dwell Magazine

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

Poul Henningsen Artichoke Lamp $9737 $8276
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Josef Frank

Scandinavian Design Ideas
Brittany Ambridge for Domino Magazine

Sweden, 1885–1967

Austria-born architect Josef Frank adopted Swedish citizenship in the '30s. He's best known for his colorful fabric designs for the Swedish company Svenskt Tenn. His fabrics are still highly coveted on the design scene today, gracing many homes and hotels, most notably The Maidstone in East Hampton, New York, which features many of his fabrics and wallpapers.

Best-Known Work: His iconic fabrics

Josef Frank Cushion Teheran Linen $128
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Arne Jacobsen

Scandinavian Décor Ideas
Christian Shaulin for Dwell Magazine

Denmark, 1902–1971

Architect Arne Jacobsen was possibly one of the most prolific Scandinavian modernist designers of his time. His plywood Ant Chair sold in the millions. 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

Arne Jacobsen Swan Chair $8018
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Greta Grossman

Scandinavian Décor
Joe Schmelzer for the Animal Print Shop

Sweden, 1906–1999

Although Greta Magnusson-Grossman spent the last 50 years of her life in California, she first established herself as a young designer in Sweden, her home country. Marrying Scandinavian and Californian modernist aesthetics, she opened her second shop on Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles, selling Swedish designs to notable personalities like Greta Garbo and Frank Sinatra.

Best-Known Work: The Grasshopper Lamp

Greta Grossman Grasshopper Floor Lamp $875
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Finn Juhl

Scandinavian Furniture
Courtesy of Panomo

Denmark, 1912–1989

Finn Juhl, one of the most influential modernist designers of his time, is credited alongside other well-known designers for introducing Danish design to America. He made his American debut at the MoMA in New York in 1951. The iconic sensual shapes of his designs have earned him many awards, some postmortem: His Baker Sofa won Best Reissue in the Wallpaper Design Awards in 2010. His home shown above was turned into a museum that can still be visited near Copenhagen today.

Best-Known Work: The Chieftains Chair

Finn Juhl Chieftains Chair $13503
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Hans Wegner

Best Scandinavian Furniture
Courtesy of The Apartment

Denmark, 1914–2007

Hans Wegner is considered a master of 20th-century Danish modernism. Though he created so many iconic pieces we know and love, Wegner was best known for his chairs, designing more than 500 over the course of his career, hundreds of which went into mass production. Among some of the most iconic ones: the Peacock chair, the Wishbone chair, the Shell chair, and a MyDomaine favorite: the Flag Halyard chair.

Best-Known Work: His chairs (too many to name)

Hans Wegner Flag Halyard Chair
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Pricing available upon request from the brand.

Børge Mogensen

Scandinavian Modern Design
Tagger Yancey ; DESIGN: ASH NYC

Denmark, 1914–1972

Børge Mogensen started his career as a cabinetmaker and teaching assistant of Kaare Klint before venturing out on his own in 1959. He won multiple design awards throughout his career and was celebrated for his quality craftsmanship and the classic influences that inspired his modern designs.

Best-Known Work: The Spanish Chair

Børge Mogensen Spanish Chair $3770
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Jens Risom

Scandinavian Modern Décor
Coral von Zumwalt for Lonny

Denmark, 1916–2016

Another Scandinavian expat, Jens Risom emigrated from his home country of Denmark to the United States in 1939, around the same time as Greta Grossman. At the ripe age of 23, he had already attended business school and designed furniture for Kaare Klint. His Risom chair was one of the first to be manufactured by Knoll (and is still manufactured today)!

Best-Known Work: The Risom Lounge Chair

Jens Risom Risom Lounge Chair $996 $847
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Philip Arctander

Scandinavian Chairs
Courtesy of Magnus Marding

Denmark, 1916–1994

Though perhaps not the most prolific furniture designer, Danish architect Philip Arctander's iconic Clam Chair is one of the most sought-after items on the auction and antique scene today, commanding astronomical prices reaching tens of thousands of dollars. This begs the question: Clam Chair or Birkin bag?

Best-Known Work: The Clam Chair

Philip Arctander Clam Chair $17000
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Niels Otto Møller

Best Scandinavian Chairs
Donna Dotan ; ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN: Workshop APD

Denmark, 1922–1988

Niels Otto Møller’s furniture repertoire might be small in comparison with his more prolific counterparts, but this only speaks highly of his uncompromising craftsmanship. Each design took him five years to complete, making his collections even more coveted and close to perfection. This might explain why his dining chairs are still found in homes all over the world today, including the stunning Joel Barkley–designed Hamptons home above.

Best-Known Work: The Møller dining chairs

Niels Otto Møller Møller Model 78 Side Chair $775
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Verner Panton

Scandinavian Furniture Ideas
Courtesy of Snug Studio

Denmark, 1926–1998

I first discovered Verner Panton in my teens while researching a light-up coffee table passed on from my grandmother. It was one of my first forays into the design world. Panton (not to be confused with Pantone!) apprenticed with Arne Jacobsen and subsequently established himself as an avant-garde designer, most well known for his fluid futuristic shapes and his use of plastics in bright vibrant colors.

Best-Known Work: The Panton Chair

Verner Panton Panton Chair $310
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Next up: See how the Scandinavians do bohemian at home.

This story was originally published on March 2, 2016, and has since been updated.

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