Swedish design has some of the most influential concepts of Scandinavian design that is accepted all around the world. Behind this timeless interior design style are some Swedish designers whose contribution cannot go unrecognized. We scoured the internet and found 10 of the best Swedish furniture designers whose footprint and work still lives and will continue to live long after them.. Find out who they are below.
1. Greta Magnusson(1906-1999)
Greta had a strong background working with wood from a very early age and with further education, she became one of the most renowned female furniture designers of the mid 20th century design scene far away from home. In 1940, and together with her husband, she opened the Grossman Studio in California that mainly focused on furniture and lighting designs that were sold to major furniture companies.
Greta’s furniture designs are famous for mixing materials and slender bodies that fit so well into modern design.Greta is especially famous for designing dressers, desks and table lamps like the award winning Gräshoppa Floor Lamp and Cobra Table Lamp designs.
In her 40 years of artistry, Greta also designed houses as both architect and interior designer. Her work is still celebrated all across Europe and America to date.
2. Josef Frank (1885-1967)
If we are to remember Australian-born Swedish furniture designer Josef Frank for anything then it would be for his love of design that was fun, full of character and comfortable. We can also not ignore that it is his work that inspired IKEA and Marimekko. Apart from iconic floral and other nature inspired fabric prints, Josef also designed furniture, lamps, vases and trays. Josef’s career grew and blossomed while designing for, and later collaborating with Svenskt Tenn. He brought something new, unique and modern to Swedish design. He was among the first designers in Sweden to make furniture that was lightweight, floral and simply elegant. Frank’s furniture also incorporated natural materials like stone and bamboo and infused fun shapes and colors to result in furniture that was functional and comfortable. His work is loved in Sweden to date because his furniture and prints actually bring cheer and happiness.
3. Bruno Mathsson (1907-1988)
Third on our list is Bruno Mathsson whose furniture designs were based on functionalism, modernism and some traditional Swedish crafts. Like Greta Magnusson, Mathsson also descended from a family of cabinet makers. At a very young age, Mathsson learnt characteristics of various types of wood and gained skills on working with each type of wood. He carried these on to his adulthood and later learnt and focused on designing high quality and functional pieces.
Among Mathsson’s most memorable designs was the baroque-style chair that won him a scholarship during an Arts and Crafts Exhibition hosted by Värnamo in 1930. With the scholarship also came an opportunity to attend the Stockholm exhibition from where the launch of Swedish functionalist movement stemmed. At this point, Bruno began to let go of the traditional woodworking thinking he had learnt from his father and thought out his own design concepts that were heavily influenced by the Swedish functionalist movement. He continued to attend exhibitions, explore his own design concepts and even visited Japan to learn new furniture concepts including working with steel. He was keen on designing modern, functional and truly functional pieces that are celebrated and quite princess at the moment.
4. Carl Malmston (1888-1972)
Unlike most Swedish furniture designers who designed for functionalism, Carl opposed the concept and instead focused on the traditional craftsmanship that focused on creating pieces that were purely for relaxation. He therefore ended up designing furniture for high end bankers and royals. Today his sofas, armchairs, stools, cupboards etc.cost an arm and a leg but are known to last the test of time.
His career began to grow in 1916 when he won an award to design furniture for Stockholm’s City Hall. Carl’s other accomplishments include furnishing crowned prince Gustaf VI Adolf’s room in the Ulriksdal Palace in the 1920s, receiving the inaugural of Prince Eugen Medal for design in 1945, and opening a furniture store in Stockholm that is currently run by his grandson. In addition, Carl founded the Carl Malmsten Furniture Studies that is now a part of Linköping University and Capellagården.
5. Gillis Lundgren (1929-1982)
Swedish furniture designer Gillis Lundgren is the brains behind most of IKEA’s designers, he even designed IKEA’S logo. He was the company’s fourth employer.
One of Lundgren’s most common designs is the Billy Bookcase that has seen over 60million produced. Another of Lundgren’s concepts is the flatpack. The concept was born one day when a table he was delivering couldn’t fit into his car and he had to take off its legs. Ever since, IKEA has produced furniture that can be transported as sections and reassembled once it gets to its destination. Lundgren was always full of furniture design ideas which could be easily turned to practical furniture.He himself confessed to getting so many ideas that he had to sketch an idea as soon as it came to him because he didn’t want it to disappear.
Lundgren retired in his 80s but the company still treasured him and had him on as a consultant until he passed on in 1982.
6.Yngwe Ekstrom (1913-1988)
Swedish furniture designer, wood carver, sculptor and architect Yngwe Ekstrom is most famous for ‘Lamino’; an ergonomic and minimalistic chair that he designed in 1956. The chair has since been in constant production. The chair was named as the Swedish furniture design of the 20th century by Swedish furniture design of the twentieth century.
Ekstrom became very influential in Scandinavian design for prolonging and re-creating the tradition of Scandinavian design. His pieces are most recognized for balancing modernity, aesthetics and functionality.
Yngwe Ekstrom is the co-founder of Swedese and worked there for 40 years until his death.
7. Carl Axel Acking (1910-2001)
Carl Axel was an architect, author but was most active as a Swedish furniture designer between the 1940s and 1950s and designed the most sought after handcrafted seating, storage cabinets, lighting and tables and more of the time.
Before standing on his own, Acking worked as an assistant to Swedish master architect Gunnar Asplund. His accomplishments include participating in the World Exhibition of 1939 in New York where the concept of Swedish Modern was launched. He was also the winner of the Lunning Prize in 1952 that was awarded to Scandinavian designers and its recipients contributed to creating the Scandinavian Design profile. Other than design, Acking also taught furniture design at Konstfackand and University of Lund. During this time he deeply influenced the generations of Swedish modernists. Acking’s furniture is currently sold as vintage pieces.
8. Axel Einar Hjorth (1888-1989)
Axel Einar Hjorth was a Swedish architect and furniture designer born in Krokek. In his career he mastered skills of working with various types of wood including pine, oak and birch. He applied French Art Deco and Modernist principles to his pieces which led to his furniture becoming an early model of contemporary Swedish design. Sleek craft and expensive material defined most of the pieces he created. Furniture designs by Hjorth relied heavily on simplicity, minimalism and functionality. Hjorth worked for several furniture companies including Nordiska Kompanient. His works are in the collection of the National Museum in Stockholm.
9. Alexander Lervik
Alexander Lervik is a Swedish furniture and product designer born in 1972. He has also taught in the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. Lervik’s work is characterized by conceptualization, innovativeness and unruliness that result in fun pieces to spark new impressions to end users.
His furniture include the Kabinett office desk, Harper sofa and Arholma chair that won him the Archiproducts Design Award in 2018. Alexander currently has his own design studio in Södermalm Stockholm where he collaborates with various Scandinavian and international designers including Aritco and Skandiform.
10. Gunilla Allard
Gunilla Allard has a background in interior and furniture design from Konstfack. In 1988, after graduating from Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts School in Copenhagen where she was a visiting student, Gunilla participated in a student workshop organized by Lammhults. That is how her career as a furniture designer began and she became the first female designer at Lammhults. Her designs include the Cinema easy chair with details from a sports car as inspiration. Overall, Gumilla’s work is described as strict, minimal and elegant.
There you have it, 10 of the best Swedish furniture designers whose work we draw a lot of satisfaction from.