Scandinavian design seems to have perennial appeal and not just to those who know their Finn Juhl from Hans Wegner either. Somehow the soft lines, emphasis on timber, subtle shapes and quality, connect to almost everyone. Perhaps it's the influence of sixty years of Ikea. That Swedish brand may be a watered down budget version of the real Scandinavian / Nordic aesthetic but it has exposed the world to a healthy dose of simple, parred back design and lots of blonde timber.
So what is this little diatribe all about? Well there is a new kid in town - a new Danish brand called Won Design. They may not be setting the world on fire but they are providing some nice contemporary Scandinavian furniture inspired by past classics (without copying them) at a reasonable cost. Which is more than can be said for many established Danish brands that are now so expensive that they are beyond the means of most. Won Design launched in August 2015 and is an off-shoot of Wendelbo - a brand really only known to Danes but which has been around in one form or another since 1955.
Wendelbo has had the common sense to reinvent themselves by establishing a new brand with a tight little collection of furniture pieces that have immediate appeal to a new generation of buyers. The designers they have chosen may not be international household names but are all successful in their own right (Spark Design Studio and Nathan Yong) and some are even on the road to mega stardom (Sweden's Note Design Studio) and a couple are just starting out such as Rene Hougaard who despite being the collection manager of BoConcept for 5 years only started his own studio two years ago.
While there is now a host of great Scandinavian brands of high design quality at competitive prices - think Muuto, Hay, Menu, Gubi, Normann Copenhagen, Bolia, New Works, Norr 11 and Hem - that a new player on the scene no longer creates much of a stir in the industry. For the buyer however the impact of these brands has been significant. No longer is the choice between seductive but expensive design-led brands and furniture chains with very little interest in original design. In short we are now blessed with a wide choice of real design at reasonable prices.
There is no longer any excuse for poor interiors or god forbid bad copies of design classics. And this is just the Scandinavian end of the wedge - brands have started up all over the world that offer this formula made possible by a growing global market - Blu Dot, and Nils Holger Moormann, although not recent are both examples of this - one is from Minneapolis the other from the Bavarian Alps. The Italian labels Miniforms, Discipline and Zilio A&C are others but there are many, many more.
Won Design currently has six design studios contributing products to the collection but the most heavily represented studio is undeniably 365º North. While perhaps not so well known by this name, one of thefounders Henrik Pedersen, is an acclaimed designer who came to world attention in 2008 /9 for his lighting designs for Frandsen, in particular the 'Bait' floorlamp and 'Gravity' pendant. The studio founders Mette Rosendal, Henrik Pedersen and Jan Thøgersen work across graphic and product design specialising in the lifestyle sector - furniture and lighting and packaging in particular.
With the bulk of Won's designers coming from either Sweden or Denmark it might come as something of a surprise to discover that the work of Singapore-based designer Nathan Yong is also part of the brand's collection. Yong however is a highly experienced designer who has been practicing since graduating in the early 90's and boasts many big European clients including Italian brand Living Diviani, French design powerhouse Ligne Roset and Spanish brand Punt Mobiles.
As previously mentioned Stockholm-based Note Design Studio has also recently contributed work to the collection with their 'Mango' armchair. Inspired by the look of the fruit when the flesh is cut into a grid, the chair hasa smooth exterior and interior of multiple sections. While padded and soft the chair has a tidy, minimalistic appearance with fine metal legs that makes it suitable for a wide variety of contemporary interiors while giving a nod to mid century classics like Saarinen's 'Womb' chair for Knoll.
The latest addition to the Won Design collection is the 'Daybed' by Steffensen and Würtz. Thomas Steffensen and Pia Würtz Mogensen founded the studio less than a year ago in May 2015 but already they have a client base that includes Danish companies Bolia, Casø and Hübsch. They also designed the 'Stilt Desk' for Won Design and a storage cabinet called 'Stilt Box'.