Aesthetic Exploration: Scandinavian Furniture

Scandinavian furniture is characterized by sleek, well-made, and minimalist design. The harsh weather conditions and large forestlands have influenced the designers to produce long lasting products that use wood as the main construction medium. The socialist political climate in Sweden has shaped a common design philosophy that everyone has the right to well designed objects no matter the their social class, gender, or race. The minimalist aesthetic is derived from the main idea that tools are meant to serve a function and they do not need any extra frills; the form follows the function. However, this simple furniture aesthetic can still provide what the danish call ‘Hygge’, meaning that cozy and comfortable feeling. I have included recent works that I fancy and brief review on them below. (1)



This is the S1 Sideboard by BYKATO. What I like most about this piece is that the handle is built in as a negative feature at the top of the doors and drawers. This one piece has two functions which is way cool. BYKATO really keeps the user’s needs in mind by provide a fully customizable product where the user can pick the number of doors, color of the doors, and the drawer arrangement. Plus who doesn’t like a nice semi-muted pop color.


This is YOLO by Aalto+Aalto. This Helsinki based design office has designed a product that is meant to provide a service for an user’s entire life. (3) Yes it is a high chair, but you can remove the ‘baby cage’ top part and the product becomes a kitchen ladder or a stool. By providing multiple functions, the product is still useful even after the little tyke can sit in a proper chair. I am 6 ft tall and 22 years old and I would use this all the time, no doubt. And I would like to pass this product along to my next generation if possible. 

(1) Caffes, Levi. Scandinavian Furniture Design. 2016.

(2) “S1 Sideboard.” ByKATO. 2011. Web. 24 January 2017.

(3) “YOLO.” Aalto Aalto. 2015. Web. 24 January 2017.

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4 Comments. Leave new

  • Max Scrimgeour
    January 30, 2017 12:01 am

    I personally enjoy the looks of Scandinavian furniture and the way that it connects nature to a more modern world in which we live in. I also think that it is very unique to this part of the world how inter connected these cultures are with the nature that surrounds them and it seems to show in the furniture that they design. Do you think that all of the other Scandinavian counties influence eachother when based on other designers and who is doing what? What Scandinavian country do you think that this style originated in?

  • Scandinavian furniture is an aesthetic with a cult like following. You talked about how it was born out of the idea that a piece of furniture is a tool and how form follows function. It is amazing how such an idea that furniture shouldn’t necessarily have a style has become a huge style, even a lifestyle. It seems to represent cleanliness, sleekness, even agility and youthfulness. I believe it has grown into an aesthetic that represents the rejection by younger people (or people that want to feel young or separated from the past) of traditional, stuffy, ornate décor, which they might have been used to as a child and want to separate themselves from. Example: kid goes to grandma’s house and it is filled with doilies and china cups and lacy curtains. I feel like very few people want that image as a young person, they want the opposite, and they gravitate to the minimalist aesthetic.

  • Sara Palandeng
    January 29, 2017 8:40 pm

    Bless those Scandinavians and their sleek furniture design. Overall a really solid overview of this modern aesthetic. The photos you included are perfect examples of this universally revered style of furniture design. As a fellow admirer of Scandinavian furniture, I think you made an excellent point about designers having a “common design philosophy”. I think that is key in establishing a “successful” aesthetic. Among all the different regional aesthetics, this one is thoroughly consistent and I think that adds merit to the design quality of their pieces.

  • The hard lines and geometric shapes give the furniture an art deco feel to their design. It’s nice to see that the Scandinavian pride themselves in the durability and functionality of their work. Usually baby furniture like high chairs get thrown out after a few years, but the YOLO is something that can be used for that person’s entire life. It bothers me as a consumer that many things produced today are designed to break down after a few years so that they can be replaced. Recycling reduces some of the waste that is produced, but it would be better altogether if the product never got trashed in the first place. As a future engineer, it is an important issue to consider in design.


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