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Which nations have had the greatest influence on today’s furniture design?

Take a look around your living space – you’ll probably find a melting pot of different influences and designs. We’re fascinated by strong, dynamic furniture design and the array of inspirations that have affected how we live, work and play.
That’s why we’re sharing our thoughts on global design trends and exploring the key themes that we’ve invited into our homes and made part of the furniture. Whether it’s modular, gothic, open spaced or draped in colours, fabrics and textures, everybody’s interior has drawn influence from some of these styles.

Scandinavian Functionalism

There have been plenty of references to Hygge over the past couple of years, a nod to the Danish lifestyle concept that champions warm, calm and cosy living spaces. And it’s the short days and cold in Denmark, Sweden and Norway that sparked the need for functional interior design that maximised light and practicality.

This approach looked to create multi-purpose furniture that could be easily assembled but didn’t compromise on quality or attractiveness, elements that are echoed in Morfus’ design. That’s why Scandi style isn’t out of place in the luxury market, modular or flat-pack arena.

Alvar Aalto used the aesthetic and strength of birch plywood, showing Scandi designers’ knack for using natural light to show off the natural qualities of a material. Aalto’s style was known as Scandinavian Modern, using a mixture of technical experimentation and simplification.
Early designers like Finn Juhl and Hans Wegner also designed furniture that combined sophistication and function, using materials like rosewood and birch a for light, natural effect.

Built with the customer in mind, pieces are easy to use and easy to assemble. But customers will also find fluid, organic shapes with interesting vibrant design, such as the famous Arne Jacobsen egg chair.

Italian Trend-setters

It’s no surprise that Italian design focusses heavily on elegance and beautifully crafted furniture when surrounded by artistic influences and architectural beauty, from Gucci to Michelangelo.

Italian design doesn’t concentrate on creating furniture that appeals to everyone, everywhere and looking at the early work of radical design pioneers like Gae Aulenti and Ettore Sottsass, it’s easy to see why. Crafting unique, expressive pieces that ooze creativity captures the individualism of modern Italian design. At their best, Italian interiors utilise palazzo-style spaces where the opulence of the fit out is mathced by the grandeur of the spaces.

From lighting to storage, Italian furniture sometimes seems more at home in a gallery, with daring designs, bold, brash shapes and colours looking to push boundaries and be inventive and stylish over cosy and conservative.

French Chic

French design has sought to combine the unique character of a space with practical, chic furniture fittings. While always keeping traditionalism in mind, there has been a playful undercurrent running through French interiors, often with eclectic and juxtaposed styles.

If a room is too curated or perfect then it compromises the laissez-faire, unforced look favoured by the French that bridges the gap between vintage and modern.
Philippe Starck’s furniture uses this dynamism to create his quirky, signature style with attention-grabbing pieces like the wedge-shaped J Series club chair and his own post-modern take on Louis XVI furniture with a polycarbonate Louis Ghost armchair.
French design embraces bold, tongue-in-cheek and effortlessly chic pieces.

Egyptian Design

Known for using heavy metalwork, with an Arabesque style for patterns and tiling, Egyptian design became increasingly popular in America and Europe as it moved through a 1920s neo-Egyptian revival, inspired by the excavation of King Tutankhamen’s tomb.

Since the 1960s, Egyptian furniture design has become a much more diverse sector with an emergence of new materials, stronger emphasis on carpentry and embroidery with more user-friendly, simplified designs.
Modern Egyptian design embraces urbanism and reimagines traditional techniques in a contemporary style, such as modern twists on alabaster coffee tables and Louis Farouk armchairs.

Japanese Minimalism

Known for being sleek and minimalist, Japanese design is renowned for open, decluttered interiors and clean-lined, modern furniture. It’s a look that’s incredibly popular, as home owners try to make the most out of the space they have.

The simplicity of Japanese minimalism helps to create calm spaces with open areas and as much natural light as possible – which is very similar to some of the principles of Scandinavian design that we’ve mentioned.
Traditionally this involves clean, bright fittings balanced out with light, wooden furniture to promote a zen-like, serene environment. A lot of furniture is designed low to the ground too, such as bed frames and side-tables.

Respect for nature is very important in Japanese culture, so natural wooden elements are used for walls, doors, screen grids and frames, as well as storage pieces to help keep everything orderly and items tucked away.

What next?

Where’s the design world heading next? With living spaces becoming increasingly smarter with a range of invisible but efficient technologies, we think furniture will continue to borrow from sleek, minimalist design and move further into the realm of modular, adaptable, and customisable furniture.

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