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Berså design from Gustavsbergs porslinsfabrik
The Berså collection is one of the most well-known porcelain products produced at Gustavsbergs Porslinsfabrik.
Photo credit: Stina Juhlin / Gustavsbergs Porslinsfabrik

Discover Swedish design via glass and ceramics

A good way of bringing a slice of Swedish design into your home is via glassware and ceramics. There’s a vast range of names to consider, many of which have centuries-old heritage yet a modern outlook and aesthetic.

Swedish design has a distinctive aesthetic and spans a broad spectrum – from furniture and homeware to fashion. The glass design is an important part of the repertoire, as are ceramics. With roots in the early 20th century functionalist movement, Sweden’s design scene has developed into a unique proposition, resulting in user-friendly yet highly considered designs that lend themselves perfectly to the modern home. The 1919 release of Swedish art historian Gregor Paulsson’s influential book “Vackrare Vardagsvara” (“More Beautiful Everyday Goods”), set the tone for factory-made, functional and high-quality everyday items, available to all. “Less is more” is the mantra here, but the look is decidedly design-led with minute attention to detail.

Sweden’s glassware and pottery industries were established long before the days of functionalism though. Its first porcelain factory, Rörstrand, opened in 1726. Glass design of Sweden meanwhile, established itself in 1742 with the opening of the Småland-based Kosta glassworks, now known as Kosta Boda, that forms part of Glasriket – the Kingdom of Crystal. Here you’ll find several key Swedish glassworks, showcasing everything from drinking vessels to elaborate art-glass creations.

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Inwhite from Rörstrand

A set of white porcelain from Rörstrand called “Inwhite” designed by Monica Förster.

Photo: Rörstrand

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Inwhite from Rörstrand

Photo: Rörstrand

'Carat' candlesticks and vases by Lena Bergström

Photo: Orrefors Kosta Boda

'Septum' vases by Mattias Stenberg

Photo: Kosta Boda

The ceramic and glass design of Sweden – and the designers to look out for

Celebrating the beauty of nature, many Swedish design items across glass and ceramics feature natural elements. As for current trends, mixing vintage and new is a definite tendency. 1960s-style patterned crockery by designers such as Stig Lindberg complement unadorned, contemporary designs beautifully. Some of Lindberg’s much-loved ranges – such as the foliate-patterned ‘Berså’ variant – are still in production, courtesy of porcelain purveyor Gustavsberg.

Ingegerd Råman is celebrated as a contemporary force within glass and ceramics. Some of the most famous works of her long career, which began in 1968, include the minimalist ‘Skyline’ set of vases (2000) and ‘Tanteralla’ sherry decanter (1999). Despite their clean lines, Råman’s creations exude warmth and even a whiff of humour. Take the children’s plate she created for Svenskt Tenn in 2003 for example. Inspired by founder Estrid Ericson’s much-loved ‘Elephant’ print, Råman decorated the plate’s rim with a parade of creatures, one of which is walking in the wrong direction. In Svenskt Tenn’s wondrous Stockholm store, you’ll find many other covetable glass and ceramic products, including ceramist Signe Persson-Melin’s fine bone china mug ‘Streck’ (line).

Elsewhere, Anna Elzer Oscarson has gained a reputation for handcrafted, practical, yet ultra-stylish porcelain items under her own brand AEO. While her studio is in Gothenburg, her collections are manufactured in Lidköping at the renowned Porslinsfabriken factory.

Keep an eye out too for Monica Förster– another notable Swedish designer. Her ‘Inwhite’ range – designed for Rörstrand in 2014 – is described as “a new generation of white porcelain” with its low-slung, contemporary silhouette. Rörstrand collaborates with a diverse roster of talents, including fashion brand Filippa K.

If you’re after a Rörstrand classic, the ‘Swedish Grace’ range by Louise Adelborg is a highlight. This masterpiece, launched at the Stockholm Exhibition in 1930, is a simple and decorative crockery line found in many Swedish homes. Like the very essence of Swedish design, it stands the test of time.

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Ingegerd Råman

The Swedish glass designer Ingegerd Råman in her studio with some of the glass products that she have designed.

Photo: David Carlsson

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Ingegerd Råman

Photo: David Carlsson

Design shopping

Photo: Rosanna Andersson / Visit Stockholm

Vases by Anna Elzer Oscarson

Photo: Daniella Witte

Designer Anna Elzer Oscarson

Photo: Faramarz Gosheh @farmarzgphoto

Dancing Dune vase by Anna Elzer Oscarson

Photo: Faramarz Gosheh @farmarzgphoto

'Swedish Grace Gala' by Rörstrand

Photo: Rörstrand