Norwegian Furniture in the 20th Century

Ingmar Relling’s ‘Siesta’ chair from 1966

Norwegian, and Scandinavian, designers are world known for their experimental, yet natural design. For generations, the Scandinavian nature has had a great influence on decorative art. The designers have been inspired by the flora and fauna, and introduced them in form of elegant and durable furniture. The material is marked by solid wood, such as oak, beech and birch.

Below follows a selection of Norwegian furniture designers who has contributed with first-class design elements through the 20th century.

Fredrik Kayser’s dining chairs from 1955

Marie Karsten (1872-1953) was a pioneer in Norwegian design and considered the first female interior designer in Norway. Between 1898 and 1900, she studied at the Royal College of Art in London. From England she brought back influences from English Art Nouveau, and she became a spokeswoman for developing Norwegian handicrafts.

Adolf Relling (1913-2006) has had a major impact on the functionalist style furniture combined with traditional quality craftsmanship. He is known for his interior design at the Grand Hotel in Oslo, the Norwegian Royal Yacht and the Norwegian Parliament. His brother, Ingmar Relling (1920-2002) was also a furniture designer. In 1966, he became famous for his chair ‘Siesta’ made of leather and laminated beech. Both brothers have received numerous awards for their elegant designs.

Dining table and chairs by Torbjørn Afdal, from circa 1960.

Torbjørn Afdal (1917-1999) was part of the Scandinavian design tradition and used a traditional style with clean lines and solid construction. His materials were teak and rosewood in combination with leather and steel. He was strongly influenced by Danish furniture design. During the 11th Deutsche Handicraft fair in Munich in 1958, he received a gold medal for his chair ‘FORM’.

Bjørn Ianke (1919-1991) designed furniture and furnishing for private homes and public buildings, such as, embassies, hotels and offices in addition to the Norwegian Royal Yacht. As a carpenter, he worked with high quality materials. His specialty was furnishing old buildings without style counterfeits. He also made ‘over-the-top’ furniture in precious wood such as mahogany, but also in birch.

Sigurd Resell (1920-2010) received great attention for his chair ‘Falcon’, which was sold worldwide. In 1966, the chair ‘Irafas’, designed together with Cato Mansrud, won a gold medal in the Tables and Chairs in Steel category at the Industrial Design Biennale in Ljubljana.

Adolf Relling’s lounge chair in blue

Fredrik A. Kayser (1924-1968) was inspired by contemporary Danish furniture design. All his products have a classic cut, and are functional and modern. He is particularly known for his work with lamination technique and his furniture has had world-wide success.

Olav Eldøy (1948) started in 1977 his own practice as an interior and furniture designer. In 1991, he received the NOR-IN award for his sofa Vatne 980. He has won several national and international awards for his design.


Text by: Anette Broteng Christiansen, ThorNews

Source: Wikipedia

Photos from top: Archivelaguna, Fuglen, Vampt Vintage Design, Etsy

Categories: Culture, Design

5 replies

  1. I have what looks to be a seista chair though not sure if it is an original Ingmar Relling as no markings on it. Was it only Ingmar Relling who released this design? Or have there been replica’s made in recent years? How would I know if it is in fact an Ingmar Relling?

  2. Thank you for your comment! It you have an original Ingmar Relling ‘Siesta’ chair, there should be a mark (sticker) on one of the wooden parts which say “Westnofa furniture made in Norway”. Some replicas have been made of this classic chair.

  3. Thankyou Anette. There are no stickers on the chair. Looks like I may have a replica.

  4. Today several old classics are produced under license and called reproductions. The difference between a licensed reproduction and an original is the year of production, and no big price difference. The price difference occurs first on the used market. Where did you get the chair?

  5. I have an original Siesta chair (with sticker!) which I purchased in the 60s-70s. I need new upholstery-leather. Is it available from a company source or does it have to be custom-made?

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