When it comes to sparking joy, the Swedes are veritable pyromaniacs of pleasure—just think of the pop earworms of ABBA and the filmography of Greta Garbo, for instance. Another feel-good export that continues to resonate beyond Scandinavia is Swedish painted furniture, a character-rich aesthetic grounded in centuries-old folk traditions that blossomed until the late 19th century.
Made almost exclusively from local blonde pine wood, this type of furniture features pared-back silhouettes and graceful details. The distinctive use of colored paint, from ebullient indigo to ethereal verdigris and earthy yellow ochre, is what distinguishes these pieces as true scene stealers. The unique hues were achieved through the use of matte white ‘chalk’ paint, which mixed easily with foraged natural pigments. These dense paints, with their textured appearance, were applied to wood in one dominant color or arrayed in surprisingly graphic patterns that feel current today. Ever the proponents of self care, the Swedes instinctively understood, even back then, that one’s environment was pivotal to emotional and mental wellbeing.
And in a world of mass-produced replicas, furniture like this proves that chic and simply crafted is truly the way to go. Ain’t nothing like the real thing.
Shop the full curation of Swedish painted furniture from the latest issue of our print publication, Magazinish. To read all of Magazinish, click here.