History and Current Status of Design in Scandinavia

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearch


This paper describes and discusses central developments of Scandinavian design in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries including the role played by the functionalist movement, the training of Danish designers, the influence of Scandinavian designers’ on the evolution of the legal protection of design in the twentieth century, inspirations from Japanese art and design on Scandinavian modern design and deviations between diverse national traditions in Scandinavia. It is argued that a group of Danish designers came to contribute significantly to the direction of design-related branches of intellectual property law. In particular, in the 1960s Danish designers were not only lobbying for wider protection in Denmark they also came to affect legal developments across the Scandinavian countries. In the paper it is also argued that Scandinavian design must be viewed as ‘identified design’ inasmuch as consumers are typically familiar with the names of the designers behind their furniture, lamps, tableware and so forth. A number of Scandinavian designs have acquired an iconic status within material culture due to their ubiquity, their mediagenic character or similar cultural-symbolic status. Brief thing-biographies of exemplary iconic designs are provided in the paper, including of Poul Henningsen’s PH-lamp for Louis Poulsen, Arne Jacobsen’s Ant Chair for Fritz Hansen, Hans Wegner’s Round Chair for PP Furniture, Märta Måås-Fjetterstrøm’s textile designs, Aino & Alvar Aalto’s Aalto Vase, Armi Ratia’s Unikko design for Marimekko and Peter Opsvik’s Tripp-Trapp chair for Stokke Furniture.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2020
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2020
EventDesign seminar - Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan
Duration: 25 Jan 202025 Jan 2020


SeminarDesign seminar
LocationWaseda University


  • Scandinavian design history
  • Functionalism
  • Copyright law
  • Design law

Cite this