If you had to narrow down what encompasses a truly successful Scandinavian design, it would have to be the importance of function meets form.
Whilst it’s true that many designers value functionality and form, what makes Scandinavian designs truly unique is the great significance they place on the relationship between them. Both function and form share equal importance, with neither side outweighing the other.
“The Wishbone Chair” by Hans Wegner – 1950
With awards from numerous locations across the globe, it’s easy to see why Hans Wegner is often referred to as “The master of the chair.” During his lifetime, Wegner produced 500-odd chairs, of which the Wishbone Chair was undeniably his most successful.
The Wishbone or “Y” Chair gets its name from the Y shape of its back design. Before he designed the Wishbone Chair, he had a keen interest in classical Chinese Emperor’s thrones, resulting in his design “The Chinese Chair” in 1943. Interestingly, this is the chair that inspired – and eventually led to – the beloved Wishbone Chair only a few years later.
The Wishbone Chair was designed to be a lighter and more compact version of the heavy, chunky dining chairs of that era. It was created with sustainable materials like steam-bent wood and hand-woven plastic chords. Altogether, each chair undergoes over 100 steps during its production, showcasing its supreme quality.
“The Egg Chair” and “The Swan Chair” by Arne Jacobsen – 1958
During World War II, Arne Jacobsen fled his hometown of Copenhagen to Sweden by sailboat, due to his Jewish background. Once there, he safely waited out the war. When he returned, his career eventually got back on track and headed for great global success.
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Jacobsen was awarded for his designs across various avenues, from spoons to hotels. One of his most striking designs that is still popular today is The Egg Chair. This organic, oval-shaped chair was originally designed to contrast and complement the angular design of the SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen.
The egg chair was designed to create a “capsule-like” feeling. Whereby you could feel a sense of comfort, security and privacy from the outside world. The curved design hugs your body more than a chair usually would, adding to this sensation. Due to its funky, unique and timeless design. The Egg Chair has been featured in countless cinematic movies and design magazines.
Another one of his chair pieces which is still loved today is The Swan Chair, which was designed alongside The Egg Chair to be used within the hotel’s lobby. It became an overnight sensation, and much like The Egg Chair has not ceased production since.
The Phantom Chair by Verner Panton – 1958-67
What took 9 years to create, acted as one of the most important stepping stones for 20th-century design. Towards the early 60’s when Pop Art culture began to thrive, it became one of the most iconic objects of the era.
The Phantom Chair first appears as elegantly simple, yet is beautifully complex in reality. What made it so ground-breaking and futuristic was its legless design. Which set an entirely new standard of what a chair could be. The chair is made from polypropylene plastic, meaning it is light to carry and can also be used both indoors and outdoors.
This design showcases what is possible when form meets functionality in all aspects. Not only is The Phantom Chair breathtaking at first glance. But its form is practical and precise, resulting in a pristinely balanced structure.
The sides of the chair cleverly wrap inwards, to add strength and durability. The seat itself curves in a way that conforms to the human body, making it remarkably comfortable and supportive. These genius curves also make it stackable, adding to its practicality.