Function First: The Practical Aspects Of Scandinavian Furniture Design

Function First: The Practical Aspects Of Scandinavian Furniture Design


Scandinavian furniture design has gained immense popularity in recent years, with its clean lines, minimalist aesthetic, and functional approach. Functionality is at the core of this design style, prioritizing practicality and usability without compromising on beauty. This article delves into the practical aspects of Scandinavian furniture design, exploring the principles, materials, and techniques that make it so unique and appealing.

The Origins of Scandinavian Furniture Design

Scandinavian furniture design emerged in the early 20th century as a response to the industrial revolution and the desire for functional and affordable furniture. Influenced by the principles of simplicity and functionality, Scandinavian designers sought to create pieces that were both visually pleasing and practical for everyday use.

Function First: The Practical Aspects Of Scandinavian Furniture Design

Simplicity and Minimalism

One of the defining characteristics of Scandinavian furniture design is its simplicity and minimalism. This approach focuses on removing unnecessary ornamentation and emphasizing clean lines, resulting in furniture that is visually light and uncluttered. The minimalist aesthetic allows the furniture to seamlessly blend into any space, making it versatile and timeless.

Natural Materials

Scandinavian furniture design often incorporates natural materials such as wood, leather, and wool. These materials not only add warmth and texture to the pieces but also reflect the region’s connection to nature. Wood, in particular, is a prominent feature in Scandinavian furniture, with designers preferring light-colored woods like birch and ash. The use of natural materials also aligns with the sustainable and eco-friendly values that are inherent in Scandinavian design.

Function First: The Practical Aspects Of Scandinavian Furniture Design

The Principles of Functionality

Functionality is the cornerstone of Scandinavian furniture design. The designers prioritize the practical aspects of furniture, ensuring that every piece serves a purpose and enhances the user’s experience. The following principles highlight the functional approach of Scandinavian design:

  • Ergonomics: Scandinavian furniture is designed with the human body in mind. The designers pay attention to ergonomics, creating pieces that are comfortable and supportive. Chairs and sofas often feature curved backs and seats that conform to the natural contours of the body, promoting good posture and comfort.
  • Modularity: Many Scandinavian furniture pieces are modular, allowing users to customize and adapt them to their specific needs. Modular furniture provides flexibility and versatility, making it ideal for small spaces or changing living arrangements. It also enables easy transportation and assembly.
  • Storage Solutions: Scandinavian design often incorporates clever storage solutions to maximize space and minimize clutter. Furniture pieces, such as coffee tables and sideboards, may have built-in storage compartments or drawers. This practical feature helps maintain an organized and tidy living environment.

Clean Lines and Functional Forms

Scandinavian furniture design is characterized by clean lines and functional forms. The emphasis is on simplicity and practicality, with no unnecessary frills or excessive ornamentation. This design approach ensures that the furniture remains timeless and adaptable to changing trends and tastes. The clean lines also contribute to the overall visual lightness of the pieces, making them appear less bulky and more streamlined.

Function First: The Practical Aspects Of Scandinavian Furniture Design

Scandinavian Furniture Techniques

Scandinavian furniture design is not only about aesthetics and functionality but also about the craftsmanship and techniques employed in the creation of the pieces. The following techniques are commonly used in Scandinavian furniture design:

Wood Joinery

Wood joinery is a traditional technique that plays a crucial role in Scandinavian furniture design. Mortise and tenon joints, dovetail joints, and finger joints are commonly used to connect wooden pieces together. These joints provide strength and stability to the furniture, ensuring that it withstands the test of time. The craftsmanship involved in wood joinery is highly valued in Scandinavian design, with each joint carefully crafted and often visible as a design element.

Laminated Wood

Laminated wood is another technique frequently used in Scandinavian furniture design. It involves layering thin sheets of wood together to form a strong and durable material. Laminated wood allows for the creation of curved and sculptural forms that are both aesthetically pleasing and structurally sound. The technique is often employed in the production of chairs, such as the iconic laminated wood chairs designed by Arne Jacobsen.

Function First: The Practical Aspects Of Scandinavian Furniture Design

Iconic Scandinavian Furniture Pieces

Over the years, Scandinavian furniture designers have created numerous iconic pieces that have become synonymous with the style. These pieces showcase the combination of form, function, and timeless design that defines Scandinavian furniture. Some of the most notable examples include:

  • Egg Chair: Designed by Arne Jacobsen in 1958, the Egg Chair is a true icon of Scandinavian design. Its sculptural form and comfortable upholstery make it a statement piece in any interior.
  • Wishbone Chair: Designed by Hans Wegner, the Wishbone Chair is a classic example of Scandinavian craftsmanship. Its elegant and organic design, combined with the use of natural materials, has made it a timeless piece.
  • Poäng Chair: Created by Finnish designer Alvar Aalto, the Poäng Chair is known for its ergonomic design and curved wooden frame. It has become a staple in many Scandinavian-inspired interiors.

Table: Scandinavian Furniture Design Comparison

Furniture Piece Designer Year
Egg Chair Arne Jacobsen 1958
Wishbone Chair Hans Wegner 1949
Poäng Chair Alvar Aalto 1946

Function First: The Practical Aspects Of Scandinavian Furniture Design

The Influence of Scandinavian Furniture Design Today

Scandinavian furniture design continues to have a significant influence on the world of interior design today. Its timeless appeal, functionality, and emphasis on natural materials resonate with people seeking a simple and clutter-free living environment. The principles and techniques of Scandinavian design have been adopted and adapted by designers worldwide, resulting in furniture that combines the best of both form and function.

Sustainability and Environmental Considerations

Scandinavian furniture design’s focus on sustainability and the use of natural materials aligns with the growing demand for eco-friendly products. The region’s commitment to sustainable practices and responsible sourcing of materials has set an example for the industry. Many Scandinavian furniture manufacturers prioritize environmentally friendly production processes and materials, contributing to a more sustainable future.

Scandinavian-Inspired Interiors

Scandinavian furniture design has inspired countless interior design styles around the world. Scandinavian-inspired interiors are characterized by light, neutral color palettes, minimalist decor, and a focus on natural light and open spaces. The functional and uncluttered nature of Scandinavian furniture makes it a perfect fit for modern and contemporary interiors.

Function First: The Practical Aspects Of Scandinavian Furniture Design


Scandinavian furniture design’s practical aspects and functional approach have made it a highly sought-after style in the world of interior design. Its simplicity, clean lines, and emphasis on natural materials create pieces that are not only visually pleasing but also functional and comfortable. The principles of ergonomics, modularity, and storage solutions contribute to the usability and versatility of Scandinavian furniture. The craftsmanship and techniques employed, such as wood joinery and laminated wood, ensure the durability and longevity of the pieces. The influence of Scandinavian design can be seen in both sustainable practices and the rise of Scandinavian-inspired interiors worldwide. Overall, Scandinavian furniture design is a testament to the power of blending form and function to create timeless and practical pieces.