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Scandinavian Simplicity: Iconic Designers

Since the 1940s Scandinavia has become a world-renowned center of both mass-market and avant-garde design, particularly in furniture. The Scandinavian mid-century-modern design movement is characterized by simplicity, minimalism and functionality. While the term Scandinavia only refers to the three kingdoms of Denmark, Sweden and Norway, the movement emerged from the five Nordic countries of Finland, Norway, Sweden, Iceland and Denmark. This month we take a look at the movement's most iconic designers and their most well-known chairs.

Børge Mogensen

Born in 1914 and educated at Copenhagen's College of Arts and Crafts, Børge Mogensen's dedication to practicality cemented his status as a leader of Danish design.

In order to ensure all of his designs were fully functional, Morgensen researched human behavior to discover what one wants and needs from domestic items. The key to his success was his ability to fuse traditional, recognizable forms with modern aesthetics, many of which are still admired today.

Spanish Chair

Inspired by an ornate chair that drew on ancient Islamic culture, Mogensen began work on the iconic Spanish Chair in 1958 following a holiday to Andalucia. The striking broad armrests quickly made this a popular, practical piece.

Hans J. Wegner

Born in 1914, Han J. Wegner began his career as an apprentice carpenter. From these early roots, Wegner became one of the most influential figures of Danish design, using his natural flair and exquisite carpentry to create a series of iconic designs.

In 1942, The Copenhagen Industrial Art Museum purchased their first Wegner chair. Creating over 500 chairs during his lifetime, he received many accolades throughout his career. He became an honorary member of The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts and received the first ever Lunning Prize.

The Y Chair

Featuring a Y-shaped back, the Y or Wishbone Chair was designed by Hans J. Weger in 1949. Over 65 years later the chair is still in production.

Poul Kjærholm

Born in 1929, Poul Kjærholm was educated at the School of Arts and Crafts in Copenhagen. Developing his natural flair for design, Kjærholm graduated from the school in 1952 and continued to teach there until 1956.

Despite being trained a cabinetmaker, Kjærholm designs combine signature steel frames with natural materials. His work received a number of awards, including the Lunning award in 1958 and the ID Award in 1973.


Boasting a simple yet elegant design, the PK22 originated from Kjærholm's graduation project, the PK25. The chair enjoyed much success and was awarded the Grand Prix at the Milan Triennale, a prestigious design fair.

Arne Jacoben

Born in 1902, Arne Jacobsen is one of the most prominent designers and architects to emerge from Denmark. Starting his career as a stone mason, Jacobsen enrolled at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture in 1924.

There, he established his reputation in design. It wasn't until 1932 when he was truly recognized as an architect, winning an award for his work on the Bellavista apartments in Klampenborg.

He continued to contribute to several high-profile projects, including Oxford's St Catherine's College, but he is perhaps best remembered for his work on the SAS Royal Hotel Copenhagen. He combined his architectural and design flair designing both the building and its contents.

The Egg

In 1958, Arne Jacobsen designed The Egg for the lobby of Copenhagen's Royal Hotel. The chair's unique shape contrasted directly with the straight lines of the building's architecture.

Verner Panton

Verner Panton was born in 1962. After studying architecture at Copenhagen's Royal Art Academy, Panton spent time working in Arne Jacobsen's studio, where he developed his natural creative ability.

Panton had a passion for design and his experimental approach to color, forms and materials changed the design landscape. He was a true pioneer of the Danish design movement, with his work attracting much industry attention. In fact, some of his pieces are still celebrated in museums today.

Panton Chair

Fascinated with the design potential offered by plastics, Verner Panton's Panton Chair was put into production in 1968. Made from a type of polyurethane foam called Badyur, the chair quickly garnered it's iconic status.

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