The Local List

Ten Swedish designs that made life better

Sweden has produced an indecent number of design classics. We take a look at some of the best - from toys to furniture, fabric designs to telephones, packaging to super-safe headwear.
Great forests of paper have been dedicated to literature about the Swedish design phenomenon and there are plenty of theories about just what makes Swedes so aesthetically-aware. Since much of the design focus has been on household products, perhaps the obvious explanation is that if you have to spend a solid five months of the year inside your home, you might as well make it look nice.
Whatever the reason, one of the pleasures of living in Sweden is being surrounded by beautiful stuff in the simplest of environments. We've picked ten of the best, but what did we miss? Leave your suggestions in the comments below.
1. When we're talking Swedish design, it's almost criminal to go past Josef Frank. “But he's Austrian born,” you say. Indeed, Frank was Austrian, but you can't choose where you're born, and he adopted Swedish citizenship and died in Sweden after spending the second half of his life here. He was a prestigious designer for Svenskt Tenn and his legacy lives on today.
2. Ask a tourist what they remember most about Swedish design and they're likely to mention those funny looking wooden horses that are everywhere you look in the tourist shops. Known in Swedish as a dalahäst, the horses are handcrafted in Dalarna, and used to be made as toys for children. Now, they've become the ultimate gift for family and friends when returning from Sweden. The classic wooden versions are iconic but these days there are some very stylish modern variations available in brass and bronze.
3. Some would argue that there's nothing more Swedish than Ikea, to which we'd argue that there's nothing more Ikea than a Billy bookshelf. It's become iconic. So simple, so practical… so Swedish.
4. The Hövding bicycle helmet is another Swedish design that got the world talking. Released in 2011, it's essentially an airbag for cyclists, worn around the neck and designed to launch when the bike rider's movement simulates a crash. Sounds complicated, looks cool.
5. Tetra Pak. Another Swedish design. It's said that when a Nobel Prize laureate for Physics Niels Bohr came to Sweden, he claimed to have never seen such a practical application of a mathematical problem. He was talking about the tetrahedron package, which was the basis for the milk packets you probably have in your own fridge today. 
6. Playsam's Streamliner Classic Car has been selected as a Swedish Design Classic by the Swedish National Museum for its inventive style and sleek surface. It is made of solid wood and painted with high gloss non-toxic paint and it's tested and approved for children of any age. It's cool. Are you stroking that shiny black part of your screen? 
7. Scandinavia is sweeping the world at the moment, with everything from TV shows to music to crime thrillers. And here's a fine example of a living room accessory that has the world drooling. It's called the Jättepaddan, made by Carl Malmsten in 1934.
AB OH Sjögren
8. “A yawn is a silent scream for coffee,” the saying goes. And Swedes drink it by the gallons. Here's a modern classic of a Swedish design, made by Filippa K for Rörstrand in 2003.
9. As early as 1885, Lars Magnus Ericsson created the telephone handset, which was just one of his many improvements to contemporary telephones. In 1956, these little beauties were designed for Ericsson. And they just look so much better on a side table than an iPhone 6.
10. Skultuna has been around for over 400 years making quality brass and sterling silver objects. Long enough to qualify as a classic classic. They say that their work today is “creating tomorrow's antiques”. And we're selling these now.

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