Four Influential Women of Scandinavian Design

Clockwise from top left: Greta Magnusson Grossman, Grete Jalk, Armi Ratia, Viola Gråsten

Clockwise from top left: Greta Magnusson Grossman, Grete Jalk, Armi Ratia, Viola Gråsten

In honor of Women’s History Month, we're highlighting four influential women from the world of Scandinavian design. These trailblazing women created work - from bold, Finnish rugs to modernist architectural design - that continues to stand the test of time. 

Armi Ratia (1912-1979)

Ratia co-founded the iconic Finnish textile, fashion, & home furnishings brand, Marimekko.

Her vision was to bring textiles to life with bold, colorful prints. She commissioned emerging young artists to create exciting prints, like the famous Unikko poppy.

Marimekko became a vibrant standout in the worlds of fashion and home decor under Ratia's leadership, and continues to innovate with bold prints today. 

Greta Magnusson Grossman (1906-1999)

Greta Magnusson Grossman was a Swedish interior designer, furniture designer, and architect.

Her modernist interior designs attracted famous clientele such as actresses Ingrid Bergman and Greta Garbo.

Magnusson Grossman's Cobra lamp was recognized by MoMA in 1950 with their Good Design Award. Her legacy lives on in her 16 built projects, 14 of which are located in Los Angeles, and her enduring furniture designs.

 Viola Gråsten (1910-1994)

Viola Gråsten was a Finnish-born textile designer. She began innovating early in her career, winning a gold medal at the Paris World's Fair for damask drapery in her 20's.

She later became known for her rya rugs - traditional Scandinavian wool rugs with a shaggy pile. Gråsten's rugs were different. She created with vibrant colors, geometric shapes, and depictions of people and buildings.

Her skill with color extended to textiles. Her most famous work is a textile design named Oomph, where Gråsten combined blues and greens that were previously considered impossible to pair in textile work.

Later in life, she continued her use of vibrant colors, but chose more organic shapes inspired by nature. She created more than 100 designs from rugs to fabrics to blankets in her lifetime, many of which remain cherished in Scandinavian homes today.

Grete Jalk (1920-2006)

Grete Jalk was a Danish furniture designer. In her early years, she studied under Kaare Klint, a renowned architect and furniture designer.

Jalk experimented with bold curves in her pieces, as shown in her GJ chair. Her use of simple materials and clean lines lent her designs well to quick, inexpensive production.

The ease of production and accessible costs of her designs created a surge of popularity across the world. Her work furthered Denmark's legacy as a hub for modern furniture design.

In addition, Jalk designed fabric, wallpaper, and silverware in her career. She wrote extensively about Danish furniture and edited Mobilia, a Danish design journal for many years.