Since the 1950s, Scandinavian design has been at the forefront of the international modern movement. Of all the names the work of the Danish trio Arne Jacobsen, Finn juhl and Hans J. Wegner is probably the best known and, therefore, the most influential.
Although expensive to buy, their designs weren’t just for the elite. In this part of the world, schoolchildren spent their days on chairs designed by Jacobsen, enjoying the well-formed furniture almost by osmosis, says Dorothea Gundtoft, stylist and author of New Nordic design, which celebrates the region’s creators deserving a wider audience.
The area has incubated a few favorite pieces of furniture, including a plethora of chairs you know and maybe even by name that have been produced since the middle of the last century: Jacobsen’s Egg (1958), Wegner’s wishbone (1949) and Juhl’s Chieftain ( 1949). So is there something about this part of the topography of the world that makes furniture, lighting and accessories attractive and successful?
There is a simplicity and functionality to the designs of this region that make them useful and timeless, says Gundtoft.
The common credo that the designers she has listed espouse remains simple. Part of the premise is that well-designed furniture and accessories are made from sustainable raw materials and are purchased for life, says the stylist and author.
“The use of wood, sourced from the surrounding forests, is one of the essentials of Nordic design, and the craftsmanship and attention to detail using wood has been refined for a century,” she says.
They can also be inspired by natural visual phenomena such as the Northern Lights but historically, such as Ireland, many inhabitants of these countries worked as farmers and fishermen, making sustainable use of their natural resources.
The difference is that these countries are renowned for their design talent, while Ireland, despite having many excellent furniture makers, is not quite in the same league. Gundtoft believes that it is thanks to its international design stars that the region’s design legacy is strengthened. “Our history of famous brands, such as Arne Jacobsen, Finn Juhl, Artek and Verner Panton, means that we really have to live up to the past. A poorly produced design is not in our DNA, ”she says.
While his book focuses on boutique brands, the Swedish giant Ikea has also played a leading role in opening the eyes of the world to Nordic design. It has also helped commercialize the Nordic lifestyle, she says, and she would like to see the company collaborate more with Nordic designers rather than international collaborations.
“Ikea helps young designers to break into larger markets: many Nordic designers work for Ikea, producing furniture collections, which fund their own mini-productions and give them the opportunity to test the market all over the world. “
Historically Scandinavian design covered four countries: Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark. The author has reconfigured the region, extending Scandinavian chic beyond its historic borders to include Iceland. Located just below the Arctic Circle, in one of the most active volcanic regions in the world, it is considered by outsiders to be a changing and difficult country, writes Gundtoft. Due to its extreme weather conditions, the objects had to be highly functional. Thanks to the work of Spark Design Space and Ferid, it is now considered to be one of the coolest places to find new talent.
Having worked as a fashion and interior designer, Gundtoft is used to reading trends and being at the forefront in championing new things. She believes the companies listed in her book “reflect the times we are living in today.”
While the design giants fall victim to their own success, in part because of the cheap copies flooding the market, the trendsetters want something less obvious, something that is not so ubiquitous as everyone else. knows its price and where it comes from.
So if you’re fed up with chairs whose names you know, this book will open your eyes to lesser-known Scandinavian brands. He’ll take you on a guided tour of the area and show you memories you’ll want to live with.
New Nordic design by Dorothea Gundtoft is published by Thames Hudson.
Where to buy: IndustryDesign.ie; LostWeekend.ie; WeAreMaven.co.uk; TheOldMillStores.ie; NordicManufacturers.com; NordicElements.com; Mid-CenturyOnline.com; Inreda.ie; Arnotts.ie; BoConcept.com/fr-FR/
Nordic design: six names to buy
Denmark: Hay sells affordable and functional products that look fresh and modern. Industry Dublin on Drury Street has a small selection. In the photo, Ronan’s catalog office and Erwan Bouroullec. Hay.dk, industrydesign.ie
Danish interior designer Tina Seidenfaden Busck has transformed an 18th century apartment into a glamorous furniture repository where you can shop for creations by top Swedish and Finnish designers. Everything on site is for sale. The apartment.dk
Studio Fem, founded by Anders Engholm Kristensen, Sarah Cramer and Britt Ramussen, is an award-winning firm. His work includes a prototype Waffle sideboard, accessible from both sides and used as a room divider. studiofem.dk
Sweden: Svensk Tenn is a historic Stockholm brand that is much more decorative than many of its compatriots – and much less well-known outside of international circles. Dorothea Gundtoft loves its colors and its materials. Svenskttenn.se
Finland: Finn Joanna Laajisto worked in the United States for a large architectural firm, then returned to Helsinki to create cool retail and dining spaces, like Restaurant Intro. Joannalaajisto. com
Norway: All raised is definitely a brand to watch, says Gundtoft. The company, based in trendy Brooklyn, believes the Scandinavian tradition of taking breaks to enjoy the outdoors has significant benefits. This includes having a new perspective to think about problem solving. The Shorebird, Swan and Ducky were all designed to Normann Copenhagen. Tout surlevé.com; normann-copenhagen.com
Vera and Kyte are young designers, based in Bergen, Norway, whose work includes Memphis-inspired shelves and blocks. vera-kyte.com
Iceland: Although not part of Scandinavia, Iceland is an integral part of the new Nordic design scene. Located just below the Arctic Circle and in one of the world’s most active volcanic regions, it offers creators such as Faerid, led by Thorunn Hannesdottir, a playful perspective. Faerid.com