History and current status of design in Scandinavia

16 Pages Posted:

Date Written: September 11, 2020


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.

Keywords: Scandinavian design history, functionalism, copyright law, design law

JEL Classification: 034

Suggested Citation

Teilmann-Lock, Stina, History and current status of design in Scandinavia (September 11, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=

Stina Teilmann-Lock (Contact Author)

Copenhagen Business School ( email )

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