Born August Julius Fridhagen in the bucolic Swedish town of Norra Sandsjö in 1905, architect-designer Bertil Fridhagen began his career in his father’s footsteps, as a carpenter at established furniture manufacturer Svenska Mobelfabrikerna Bodafors. In the early 1930s, Fridhagen apprenticed under Carl Erik Ekholm before taking a detour to study at Konstfack and work at his hometown manufacturer Sandsjö Möbelfabrik. He returned to Bodafors in 1939 to succeed Ekholm as the company’s chief architect.
In parallel with Axel Larsson’s time as Bodafors’ Head Designer—and, more generally, with the careers of other Scandinavian modernist furniture-makers like Nordiska Kompaniet’s Lena Larsson and Elias Svedberg, to name a few—Fridhagen played a substantial role in solidifying both the company’s regional success and international renown. His tenure saw the design of a number of award-winning casegoods series—catalogues of pared-down and practical cabinets, bookshelves, and kitchen sets, often framed, as was the Bodafors hallmark, in hardwoods of teak and oak. Most formally decorated and lucratively popular were his Librett and Variett series, which Bodafors produced at a competitive market price well into the midcentury.
Fridhagen’s accolades include prizes at various international design competitions in Denmark (1954); at the California State Fair in Sacramento (1956); in Italy (1966, 1968, 1970); and in Tennessee (1972).
He passed away March 23, 1993.