Hans Wegner, Arne Jacobsen, and the like? Brewing beneath the surface, though, we’re detecting a desire for a fresh take on the classics; not a wholesale rejection of the postwar Scandinavian aesthetic, mind you, but a pining to pivot to a slightly softer, more charming sensibility. Less Don Draper; more Ingrid Bergman. As a consequence, the market for vintage Scandinavian design has been slowly but surely redirecting its focus from Denmark to Sweden.Scandinavian design, it seems, will always hold an exalted place in the hearts of design lovers. What’s not to love about the timeless, well-made, sculptural pieces by Danish masters like
Among the midcentury Scandinavians, Swedish designers embraced Deco-esque forms well into the postwar era, and the strict minimalism of the modernist era was mitigated by paler palettes, more curvaceous embellishments, and an unapologetic respect for craft and traditional forms. The look was simple, but not too simple. Delicate but strong. Elegant yet approachable. Smack in the middle of the continuum between architecturally confident and decoratively inviting, vintage Swedish design embodies the balanced beauty that emerges when extremes are thrown out in favor of temperance. In fact, many global trendsetters this year have proclaimed the Swedish concept of lagom—roughly translated as “just the right amount”—to be the new hygge.
Read on to discover some of our favorite recent vintage Swedish finds. And if you like what you see, click the image to learn more about each piece.
During the midcentury, one of Stockholm’s most famous department stores, Nordiska Kompaniet , produced a wide range of high-end furniture, lighting, and décor. Recently, we’ve noticed more and more ’50s and ’60s exemplars of this brand circulating in the vintage market, and we’re especially drawn to those pieces that walk the line between modernist reduction and more tradition-driven shapes and motifs. Check out the character-rich work of not-so-known designer David Rosén ; we love how it evokes images of the postwar Swedish haute bourgeoisie.
Pictured above: Lovö Chairs by Axel Einar Hjorth for Nordiska Kompaniet, 1932; Paradiset Sofa by Kerstin Hörlin-Holmquist for Nordiska Kompaniet, ca. 1956; Futura Coffee Table by David Rosén for Nordiska Kompaniet, ca. 1952; Mahogany Night Stands by David Rosén for Nordiska Kompaniet, ca. 1950s; Tile-Top Coffee Table by Stig Lindberg & David Rosén for Nordiska Kompaniet, ca. 1955; Tokyo Armchairs by Carl-Axel Acking for Nordiska Kompaniet, ca. 1960.
Bodafors , more precisely known as Svenska Möbelfabrikerna i Bodafors, is one of those 20th-century design brands for which few historical details have survived. But from the many Bodafors products found today on the vintage market, we know that the company collaborated with an array of excellent Swedish talents, including Carl-Axel Acking, Bertil Fridhagen, Axel Larsson, Carl Malmsten, and Bruno Mathsson. Like many Scandinavian producers of the era, Bodafors crafted pared down, practical seating, tables, and casegoods in fine woods, such as teak, mahogany, and oak. It’s set apart from its Danish counterparts, however, by a distinctive tendency toward lightness, delicacy, and modesty. And the prices remain more attractive than many of the Danish brands.
Pictured above: Teak Dressing Table by Sven Engström & Gunnar Myrstrand for Bodafors, 1962; Teak & Oak Cabinet by Carl-Axel Acking for Bodafors, ca. 1950s; Leather & Oak Easy Chairs by Bertil Fridhagen for Bodafors, ca. 1960; Teak Sofa & Armchairs by Folke Ohlsson for Bodafors, 1968; Oak Lounge Chairs by Folke Ohlsson for Bodafors, 1961; Mahogany Rolltop Desk, attributed to Bertil Fridhagen for Bodafors, ca. 1950s.
If we’re making comparisons between Denmark and Sweden, then it’s fair to say that Hans-Agne Jakobsson is something like the Poul Henningsen of his country, in that he focused entirely on lighting design and his work has become quite collectible on the vintage market. Unlike Henningsen, however, Jakobsson also manufactured his own designs through his eponymous company, and stylistically he was happy to try all sorts of materials and shapes over the years. The result: Jakobsson has something exciting to offer every taste, from Art Deco and Swedish Grace, to organic modernism, Space Age, and more. Right now, his brass and silk-fringed table lamps and pendants are a super hot ticket among international decorators.
Pictured above: Lamello Pendant by Hans-Agne Jakobsson, ca. 1960; Carolin Table Lamp by Hans-Agne Jakobsson, 1963; T607 Fringed Pendant by Hans Agne Jakobsson, 1963; T766 Pendant Lamps by Hans-Agne Jakobsson, ca. 1970; L47 Kerosene Table Lamp by Hans-Agne Jakobsson, ca. 1950s; Steel Pendant by Torsten Orrling for Hans-Agne Jakobsson, ca. 1970.
While we’ve been turned on by many of the more traditional-looking midcentury Swedish designs, we wouldn’t want to give the impression that Sweden lacks in purely functionalist pieces. If minimalism is the name of your décor game, then we’ve got some great Swedish companies to recommend, all of which offer pared-down perfection: for instance, the iconic, wire-framed shelves of Nisse Strinning and the lesser-known modular, steel framed shelves of Exqvisita . Or check out the early industrial-office look of Åtvidabergs , the directional, adjustable lamps of ASEA , and the layered, biomorphic pendants of Granhaga Metallindustri —so great for diffused lighting effects. And don’t forget about the biggest modernist prize from Sweden: Greta Magnusson Grossman’s beloved Gräshoppa Lamp, produced by Bergboms.
Pictured above: Trava Pendants by Carl Thore (Sigurd Lindkvist) for Granhaga Metallindustri, ca. 1960s; Model 14 Bookshelf from Exqvisita Style, ca. 1960s; Elm Wall Unit by Nils “Nisse” Strinning for String Furniture, ca. 1960s; Adjustible Table Lamps from ASEA, ca. 1950s; Swivel Chair attributed to Einar Dahl for Åtvidabergs, ca. 1930s; Gräshoppa Lamp by Greta Magnusson Grossman for Bergboms, ca. 1947.
Anna CarnickAnna is Pamono’s Managing Editor. Her writing has appeared in several arts and culture publications, and she's edited over 20 books. Anna loves celebrating great artists, and seriously enjoys a good picnic.
Wava CarpenterAfter studying Design History, Wava has worn many hats in support of design culture: teaching design studies, curating exhibitions, overseeing commissions, organizing talks, writing articles—all of which informs her work now as Pamono’s Editor-in-Chief.
More to Love
Wall Unit by Nisse Strinning for String Design AB, 1950s
Wall Unit by Nisse Strinning for String Design AB, 1950s
Vintage Tokyo Prototype Chair by Carl Axel Acking
Korall Flat Weave Rug by Erik Lundberg for Vävaregården, 1960s
Vintage Lily Candle Holder by Ivar Ålenius Björk for Ystad Metall
Vintage Armchair from Bröderna AB Johanson
Freestanding Shelving System by Exqvisita, 1960s
Mid-Century Wooden Pendant from Hans Agne Jakobsson
Mid-Century Aluminum & Brass Pendant from Hans Agne Jakobsson
Dining Chairs by Bertil Fridhagen for Bodafors, 1961, Set of 8
Eva Armchairs by Bruno Mathsson for Karl Mathsson, 1977, Set of 2
Vintage Swedish Green Flat Weave Rölakan Carpet by Ingegerd Silow
Vintage Swedish Blue Flat Weave Rölakan Carpet
Vintage Swedish Rya Carpet by Marianne Richter
Vintage Swedish Brown Flat Weave Rölakan Carpet by Astrid Sampe
Brass & Metal Candelabrums by Gunnar Ander for Ystad-Metall, 1950s, Set of 2
Swedish Table Lamps from ASEA, 1950s, Set of 2
Candlesticks from Sigurd Persson, 1980s, Set of 2
Brass & Glass Candalabrums by Gunnar Ander for Ystad-Metall, 1950s, Set of 3
Futura Coffee Table by David Rosén for Nordiska Kompaniet, 1953
Mid-Century Swedish Bookshelf System by Exqvisita Style AB, 1960s
Vintage Annika Oak & Beech Coffee Table by Bruno Mathsson for Karl Mathsson
Vilbert Chair by Verner Panton for Ikea, 1990s
Swedish Stacking Chair by Sven Markelius, 1931
Swedish Rosewood & Cork Mirror from Glasmäster Markaryd, 1960s
Antique Swedish Mora Clock
Vintage Leather Lounge Chair by Otto Schulz, 1930s
Antique Mantle Clock by Fine Gustav Becker
Faience Vases by Stig Lindberg for Gustavsberg, 1960s, Set of 3
Bowls by Gunnar Ander for Ystad-Metall, 1950s, Set of 5
Mid-Century Swedish Ceramic Reptil Vase by Stig Lindberg for Gustavsberg
Mahogany Coffee Table by Josef Frank for Svenskt Tenn, 1940s
Brass Table Lamp by Sonja Katzin for ASEA, 1950s
Mid-Century Swedish Chair from Gemla
Small Ceramic Bowl by Gunnar Nylund for Rörstrand
Mid-Century Swedish Stoneware Bowl by Gunnar Nylund for Rörstrand
Titus Ceramic Vase by Olle Alberius for Rörstrand, 1960s
Titus Ceramic Plate by Olle Alberius for Rörstrand, 1960s
Vintage Brass Bar Cart by Josef Frank for Svenskt Tenn
Swedish Vintage Brown Flat Weave Rölakan Carpet by Astrid Sampe
Mid-Century Tyr Rosewood Chairs by Nils Jonsson for Troeds, Set of 4
Mid-Century Swedish Teak Wall Shelf by Nisse Strinning for String Design AB, 1960s
Model 580 Pendants by Uno & Östen Kristiansson for Luxus, Set of 2
Mid-Century Scandinavian Rattan and Bamboo Stools, Set of 2
Ilona Chair by Arne Norell for Arne Norell AB, 1960s
Rosewood Side Tables by Carl Malmsten for Carl Löfving & Co, 1960s, Set of 2
Scandinavian Modern Floor Lamp by Uno & Osten Kristiansson for Luxus, 1960s
Mid-Century Teak Dining Chairs by Carl Ekström for Johansson & Söner, 1969s, Set of 6
Room Divider from Fred Leyman, 1963
Swedish Rosewood & Oak Cabinet by Einar Hanock Johansson, 1950s
Walnut and Velvet Lounge Chair by Axel Larsson for Hjalmar Jackson, 1940s
Cabinet by Carl Axel Acking for Nordiska Kompaniet NK, 1940s
Dressing Table by Sven Engström & Gunnar Myrstrand for Bodafors, 1962
Vintage Swedish Open Buffet
Swedish Ceiling Light by Einar Bäckström and Erik Höglund, 1960s
Swedish Chest, 1796
Folded Stool by Uno & Östen Kristiansson for Luxus
Chile Sofa by Svante Skogh for AB Klings Mobler, 1950s
Book Stand by Bruno Mathsson, 1961
Pewter Jar with Osprey by Estrid Ericson, 1925
Vintage Swedish Desk Chair from Åtvidabergs
Mid-Century Modern Arka Chairs by Yngve Ekström for Stolab, 1950s, Set of 2
Mid-Century White Faux Fur Pernilla Chairs by Bruno Mathsson for Dux, 1970s, Set of 2
Swedish Slatted Bench in Solid Oak by Hugo Svensson for Bjärnums Möbelfabriker AB, 1960s
Vintage Brass and Leather Floor Lamp by Hans Bergström for Ateljié Lyktan, 1950s
Mid-Century Brass Mirror from Markaryd
Mexico Buffalo Leather Easy Chair by Arne Norell, 1970s
Swedish Art Deco Desk and Swivel Chair Set, 1930s
Art Deco Nordic Flame Cabinet
New York Sofa by Edward Wormley for Ljungs Industrier/DUX, 1950s
Brass Sculptural Vase by Pierre Forssell for Skultuna, 1960s
Custom Made Leather Desk from NK, 1965