IKEA and others: Scandinavian pioneers of family-focused design

In tribute to IKEA's founder, Ingvar Kamprad, who died yesterday aged 91, here's a look into some innovative Scandinavian brands who pioneeed family-centred design.

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Scandinavian design, famous for its functional, practical, affordable approach, boomed during the post war period towards more informal living. These values, central to family life, are shared by companies who are still in production today showing the need and appeal of family focused design. Here's a look into a few companies well known and loved by families all over the world.

IKEA, one of the best-known furniture retailers, was formed in 1943 by Ingvar Kamprad. He observed that "most nicely designed products were very, very expensive" and sought to design well made, practical products that the majority could afford. The Swedish company's trademark functional approach was made affordable through the introduction of flat pack furniture customers assembled at home. In the 1970s, IKEA developed a more informal look using bright coloured fabrics alongside other textile designers to create homes with feelings of optimism and youthfulness.


The Tripp Trapp chair was designed by Peter Opsvik, a freelance furniture designer, in 1972 and manufactured by Stokke. His philosophy of "creating furniture to meet the needs of adults and children" is at the heart of family focused design. The chair that 'grows with the child' enables the child to join the family at the table whilst having the correct foot support is still as popular as ever with families today.


Lego was founded in 1932 in Denmark, meaning 'play well', a contraction of the two words 'leg godt'. Initially creating wooden bricks, they went on to be the first Danish company to invest in new technologies to manufacture injection-folded plastics in high volume. Lego ticks numerous family-friendly boxes; suitable for any gender, a range of ages, stimulating the imagination, improves fine motor skills and helps children understand the foundations of construction and design.