The Evolution of Scandinavian Furniture Design

Emerging in the early 20th century, and reaching its golden era in the 1950s, Scandinavian design is a unique design movement originating in the Nordic countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.

Focused on simplicity, minimalism and functionality, Scandinavian design was a radical departure from the baroque style characterized by dark, massive and heavily ornamented furniture and an authentic Nordic design movement that rivalled its continental counterparts.

The Beginnings of Authentic Scandinavian Design

As a predecessor to Scandinavian design movement, Skønvirke can be traced back to 1914 when the Danish Company for Decorative Arts launched its magazine of the same name (literal translation to English would be Graceful Work).

Soon after, a new generation of designers and artists brought together by the Skønvirke project, started working on what will soon become the first authentic Danish design movement, rivalling French Art Nouveau and German Jugendstil.

The next breakthrough came in the 1920s when Kaare Klimt, a Danish designer deeply inspired by German Bauhaus movement introduced some of the trademark characteristics of Bauhaus into Danish and broader Scandinavian design movement, like clean, simple and pure lines aimed at providing optimal functionality.

With these innovations, the Danish Modern was born.

Danish Modern and the Post-War Era

On 9th of April 1940, Second World War came to Denmark and later spread to the rest of Scandinavia, temporarily impeding further progress. However, in the post-war era, there was a huge demand for light, simple and easily mass-produced furniture which enforced the idea that design can be used to really improve people’s lives.

This idea led to the desire to create affordable, functional, yet elegant and stylish furniture, paving the way for the emergence of what we know today as Scandinavian design.

The continuing evolution and long life of Scandinavian designs are founded on the core characteristics of the Scandinavian design philosophy – affordability, comfort, simplicity, functionality and style.

The inspiration Scandinavian designers found in nature, the elegant and subtle colour schemes, and harmonious simple elegance proved to be timeless elements which gave these designs their essence.

But it was exactly these qualities which that laid the foundations for the continuing evolution of Scandinavian furniture design.

As the society changes and our habits with it, the new generations of furniture designers are constantly catching up, finding their inspiration in the timeless and iconic classics of the golden age of Scandinavian design, and further improving them to accommodate our fast-paced lifestyle while still providing us with comfort and style that have stood the test of time.

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