Danish design

Danish Design is a style of functionalistic design and architecture that was developed in mid-20th century. Influenced by the German Bauhaus school, many Danish designers used the new industrial technologies, combined with ideas of simplicity and functionalism to design buildings, furniture and household objects, many of which have become iconic and are still in use and production. Prominent examples are the Egg chair, the PH lamps and the Sydney Opera House (Australia).

Main contributors


Kaare Klint (1888-1954)

As a result of the furniture school he founded at the Royal Academy in 1924, Klint had a strong influence on Danish furniture, shaping designers such as Kjærholm and Mogensen. His carefully researched designs are based on functionality, proportions in line with the human body, craftsmanship and the use of high quality materials.

Faaborg chair
“Faaborg” chair by Kaare Klint

Poul Henningsen (1894-1967)

Poul Henningsen, a self-taught inventor and true Functionalist, was an important participant in the Danish Modern school, not for furniture but for lighting design. His attempt to prevent the blinding glare from the electric lamp bulb succeeded in 1926 with a three-shade lamp, known as the PH lamp. The curvature of the shades allowed his hanging lamp to illuminate both the table and the rest of the room.

Artichoke lamp
“Artichoke” lamp by Poul Henningsen

Arne Jacobsen (1902-1971)

Graduating from the Royal Academy in 1924, Jacobsen quickly demonstrated his mastery of both architecture and furniture design. With the completion of his Royal Hotel in Copenhagen and all its internal fittings and furniture in 1960, his talents became widely recognized, especially as a result of the chairs called the Egg and the Swan, now international icons.

Egg chair
“The Egg” by Arne Jacobsen

Finn Juhl (1912-1989)

Though he studied architecture at the Royal Academy, Juhl was a self-taught designer as far as furniture was concerned. In the late 1930s, he created furniture for himself but from 1945 he became recognized for his expressively sculptural designs, placing emphasis on form rather than function, so breaking tradition with the Klint school. His successful interior design work at the UN Headquarters in New York spread the notion of Danish Modern far and wide, paving the way for the international participation of his Danish colleagues.

Poet sofa
“Poet” sofa by Finn Juhl

Hans Wegner (1914-2007)

After graduating in architecture in 1938, he worked in Arne Jacobsen and Eric Møller's office before establishing his own office in 1943. Striving for functionality as well as beauty, he became the most prolific Danish designer producing over 500 different chairs. His Round Chair (technically Model500) in 1949 was referred to as "the world's most beautiful chair" before being labelled simply The Chair after Nixon and Kennedy used it in a 1960 televised debate.

Y-chair
“Y-chair” by Hans Wegner

Verner Panton (1926-1998)

On graduating from the Royal Academy in 1951, Panton worked briefly with Arne Jacobsen. During the 1960s, he designed furniture, lamps and textiles with an imaginative combination of innovative materials, playful shapes and bold colours. Sometimes referred to as a pop artist, unlike the majority of his colleagues, he continued to be successful in the 1970s, not only with furniture but with interior designs including lighting.

Flowerpot lamps
“Flowerpot” lamps by Verner Panton

Further reading