5 undervalued midcentury Scandinavian designers you should know, from the experts at Furnip

Best Kept Secrets

After more than a decade of thriving interest in midcentury Scandinavian modernism, you’d think that more of the designers who were responsible for creating this timeless style would be household names. Of course masters like Hans Wegner, Finn Juhl, and Arne Jacobsen deserve every bit of attention that they receive, but there are many more who should be well known too.

Our friends at Furnip, a vintage dealer in the Netherlands, agree. Their love of Scandinavian modernism has honed their expertise over the years. They helped us identify five midcentury Scandinavian designers that should be valued much more.


Illum Wikkelsø

ML90 Sofa by Illum Wikkelsø for Michael Laursen Photo © Furnip
Born in Denmark in 1919, Illum Wikkelsø is, according to Furnip, “one of Denmark’s best kept secrets.” A prolific creator, he developed simple, functional sofas and chairs for an array of Danish furniture brands, including Aarhus, CFC Silkeborg, Søren Willadsen, and Holger Christiansen. When asked to encapsulate the essence of Wikkelsø designs, Furnip tells us: “His style runs the gamut from the classicism of Kaare Klint to the Space Age expressionism of Arne Jacobsen.


H.W. Klein

Teak Sideboard by H.W. Klein for Bramin Photo © Furnip
Also born in 1919, Norwegian designer Henry Walter Klein (a.k.a. H.W. Klein) drew on his wide ranging educational and professional experiences—linguistics, mathematics, a stint in the Navy, carpentry—to develop furniture designs for Danish brands like Bramin Møbler and Fritz Hansen. Furnip tells us that Klein’s work in teak and rosewood are particularly “well proportioned and well crafted,” built to last for generations.


Kurt Olsen

Teak & Wool Armchairs by Kurt Olsen for Slagelse Photo © Furnip
When asked about underappreciated Danish designer Kurt Olsen , Furnip enthuses, “Lush seating designs—truly stunning!” In the postwar era, Olsen designed for Slagelse Møbelvaerk where masterjoiners A. Andersen and Bohm crafted a lot of his designs. “This collaboration,” according to Furnip, “resulted in an array of seating designs, culminating in his masterpiece, the Model 221 Lounge Chair,  which can take on Wegner’s Papa Bear Chair any day.”


Poul Hundevad

Model 14L Chair Poul Hundevad
Born in 1917, Poul Hundevad had a knack for designing functional, durable chairs, usually in rosewood and teak. According to Furnip: “His masterpiece was his Guldhøj Chair, which was inspired by a Bronze Age chair unearthed from a burial mound in Hundevad's birthplace, Vamdrup, Denmark.”


Sven Middelboe

Verona Pendant by Sven Middelboe for Nordisk Solar
Danish designer Sven Middelboe specialized in lighting; he headed up the design department at Danish lighting company Nordisk Solar. Furnip tells us, “There is very little information available about Middelboe, but we do know that he created some of the most stunning lighting designs of the 1960s and 1970s, like his Verona and the Barcelona fixtures.


All images © Furnip


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