What Were the Key Materials Used in Danish Modern Furniture?

Posted by John Moller on

In the early 20th century, Danish designers created clean and simple furniture. The objective of this design movement was to create a functional form with no ornamentation or adornments. These designs are often considered Scandinavian Modernism.

In this particular style, modern Danish furniture is very minimalist in its approach. Some critics have said that the designs are "monastic," simple, and pure.

This type of design is characterized by clean lines and a lack of ornamentation or embellishments. A certain level of practicality and functionality is typically included in design elements.

The Use of Natural Materials

During the 1940s, many Danish designers began to use natural materials. During this period, homes were becoming increasingly common to contain more windows. These structures needed furnishings that allowed you to view through them.

Many of the modern Danish furniture pieces created during this time were made with either glass or metal. These pieces were simple in shape but used exciting colors, finishes, and textures to make them stand out.

More specifically, these designers often looked outside the realm of traditional Scandinavian design techniques to create their furniture. They incorporated materials from cultural boundaries and even used non-traditional conceptions of what furnishing items should be made.

While this type of furniture is often associated with clean lines and simple design aesthetics, different materials added essential elements.

The Use of Light Colors

The practice of using light colors to decorate the inside of homes started becoming more common in Scandinavia. As a result, these lighter tones began appearing in furniture designs.

Many designers experimented with new styles and techniques during this time frame that led to the term "Danish Modern." Many Danish Modern Furniture pieces have a more minimalist appearance, and their design often incorporates light colors.

There were many common materials used in this type of furniture, including:

Wood: Many artisans started experimenting with new types of woods and manufacturing techniques during the 1950s and 1960s. This led to a surge in rosewood, teak, and oak popularity.

Glass: Glass was often used for tabletops and doors. It became a popular substitute for wood and allows more light to enter homes.

Metal: Metal was commonly used in chairs, especially wooden legs. However, it also showed up in tables as well as cabinets.

Fabrics: Many Danish designers experimented with new materials during this period. Leather or animal hides were often used in these designs to help furniture items stand out.

The Use of Space

Danish Modern Furniture designers looked to the world around them for inspiration. They wanted their designs to use natural light and open up a space.

Many Danish design items, particularly those created during the 1950s, were designed with a unique "floating" effect. This meant that furniture pieces often appear weightless and as if they are hovering off of the ground.

In addition, some designers looked to the functionalism movement of the 1920s and 1930s for inspiration. This was when architects focused on making practical and accommodating buildings rather than ornate and luxurious.

The Danish designers of the mid-1900s wanted their furniture to be modern, practical, and functional rather than decorative. However, they still wanted them to compliment the space they were in.

These designers looked for lighter tones that let more light into a structure regarding color palettes. They often used white or pastels but experimented with brighter shades into the 1960s.

Specific colors that were commonly used in Modern Danish designs include:

White: Many Danish furniture items have a white, almost bleached-out appearance from the Danish Modern Coffee Table. This is often achieved by sandblasting the wood or giving it a coat of solid lacquer. Bright white was a popular shade in the 1960s.

Black: Ebony was often used on metal pieces, and it offered a dark, bold contrast to light-coloreds.

Red: Red is an uncommon color in Scandinavian design, but it also appeared. It provided interesting visual elements that complemented some of the other colors.

A Clean Look Giving a Sense of Simplicity

Much of what makes Modern Danish furniture unique is its lack of adornment. Furniture items typically have a clean and simple appearance that lends itself to a sense of simplicity.

The focus was on creating furniture that would be functional for the home while keeping both function and design in mind. Many consumers appreciated this focused approach because it helped them feel they were getting their money's worth.

The materials used to create these items were quite different from those found in traditional Scandinavian designs. Many of the pieces that are classified as Danish Modern use materials like glass, wood, metal, and even animal hides.

The minimalist approach inherent to this type of furniture often created an air of sophistication through simplicity. The focus on clean lines helped propel this furniture to the forefront of many homes.

Without these materials, it's not likely that Modern Danish design would have become so popular during this period. Many homeowners were drawn to these items' clean lines and unembellished style.

Furniture with a Functional Purpose

Danish Modern pieces were often created with a functional purpose in mind. Many of the most popular items today, such as chairs and cabinets, focused on practicality rather than decoration.

In addition to being functional, these pieces had to fit into the structure's overall design where they were going to be displayed. Danish designers strove to create furniture that fits into the overall look of a system and enhance it.

Furniture had to be both functional and aesthetically pleasing to become popular during this period. From chairs to cabinets, most Danish Modern pieces were practical while fitting in with the home.

An extravagant approach was not favored. Instead, it was often an understated design that caught the eye of homeowners everywhere.

This very low-key yet elegant design element can undoubtedly be seen in many pieces of Danish furniture from this period. Furniture designers strove to create pieces that would work well with the overall look. Lighter tones were often used to help open up the space where these items would be placed.

Popular Furniture Pieces with Danish Designs

Danish Modern Coffee Table is one of the most well-known Danish Modern pieces. Many modern homes use these instead of the large, traditional ones used in many other countries.

Danish Recliners are another famous piece of furniture common during the Modern Danish period. Today, these pieces can often be found in homes, restaurants, and lounges. Danish Recliners also have a modern feel to them that many homeowners appreciate.

Many homeowners look for Danish Modern dining tables to add a bit of modern flair to the dining room. These pieces are often simple, but their clean lines make them attractive to many homes. These Danish modern dining tables can change the entire appearance of a room.


Finding suitable materials and developing a design style that fits well with homes and other structures was key to the success of Modern Danish furniture.

The clean, simple lines and unembellished look of many items made them perfect for private residences and commercial spaces. The functional purpose behind most pieces lent itself to an increased sense of usability.

Without these critical elements, it's unlikely that Modern Danish design would have created such a lasting and positive legacy for itself. Using different materials and striving for simplicity in their furniture designs, they could create pieces that worked well with most homes and other structures.

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