One of the most significant contributions to furniture design to come from Scandinavia is the Danish Modern style, which had its heyday in the 1940s, 50s and 60s. Danish Modern became so popular that it even featured in an American presidential election. It remains highly influential and is the inspiration for much of the furniture in stores today.
How do you spot it? Here are its main features:
– Overall simplicity of lines, with no decoration
– Use of natural wood, with natural finish
– Soft, rounded corners
– Natural fabrics
– Muted colors
Let’s take a look at some typical pieces, starting with perhaps the most influential one, the sideboard:
Now some chairs, beginning with the ubiquitous Y Chair, aka the Wishbone Chair:
Hans Wegner, Y Chair (1950)
And here is Wegner’s other celebrity, simply referred to as The Chair, or PP503, which was chosen for the set of the first-ever televised debate in an American presidential election, between Kennedy and Nixon in 1960:
Other iconic chairs, by Finn Juhl:
Finn Juhl, 45 Chair (1945)
Finn Juhl, 108 Chair (1946)
Slightly less iconic, but no less influential, here are two classic Danish Modern designs for tables:
There are notable exceptions, as in the work of Arne Jacobsen and Poul Kjaerholm, who used metal as much as wood in their designs, but the essence of Danish Modern remains in its simplicity of form, functionality, and use of natural materials.
So, if it looks like any of the pictures above, chances are it’s Danish Modern, or inspired from Danish Modern, which is more likely these days.