written by:
December 12, 2011

Having just returned from a trip to Copenhagen, I have Scandinavian design on the brain. Though the region arguably experienced its golden era in the mid-20th century, with the work of icons like Arne Jacobsen and Alvar Aalto, a new generation of designers and companies are putting a fresh and playful spin on the region's famously well-made, clean-lined design. Here are a few of my favorite recent finds, ideal gifts for the modern design-lover in your life...

Cork Trivet

The simplest and cutest trivet I've seen in a while, from the Danish company Ferm Living. A chain of cork balls on a raw leather string—so simple, so clever. Plus, affordable!

unfold tablecloth

Fold Unfold Tablecloth

I ogled this digitally printed tablecloth at the design store HAY in Copenhagen, and was pleased to discover it's available stateside as well. The design, by Copenhagen-based textile and color designer Margrethe Odgaard for HAY, highlights the crease lines in a folded tablecloth to stunning effect.

Plus Salt and Pepper Grinder

This salt and pepper grinder, designed by Norway Says for Muuto, is available in white, black, and natural beech wood, but our favorite is this playful multi-colored version. The stacked components reflect their use; the widest piece indicates where you grip the grinding mechanism; the tall section shows where the pepper and salt is stored.

kuksa cups

Kuksa Finnish Camping Cups

We love these hand-carved cups, made from rare arctic birch burl and outfitted with a reindeer leather strap. Apparently the cups are antiseptic and don't need to be cleaned between uses, so they're ideal for strapping to your backpack the next time you go camping—or as a gift to your favorite outdoorsy friend

Taika Plate

A friend who recently got married registered for Taika dinnerware, and I was immediately smitten with Klaus Haapaniemi's whimsical illustrations for this Iitalia line. Taika (which means "magic" in Finnish) comes in black, white, or this deep blue, and looks great surrounded by others in the line (there are mugs, bowls, small plates, and big plates) or as a bold singleton amid a sea of white ceramicware.

Unfold Pendant Light

Not to over-hype Muuto, but I also covet this soft silicone pendant lamp, designed by Form Us With Love, a Swedish design house. It ships flat, and when you take it out of the box it pops open to its full form, resembling a classic industrial lamp. Genius! And quite a statement piece in the electric blue hue.

Björk Pouffe and Rug

I, too, thought these rugs and poufs were homages to the Icelandic singer but no—björk means birch tree in Swedish, and the striated pattern, achieved through a warp of cotton intertwined with a weft in wool, vaguely resembles that tree's bark. The edge of the rug is bound with natural leather, creating a clean line and an appealing mix of materials.

hansen drunk

Drunk Bar Trunk

Here's the gigantic splurge of the bunch; a compact, stylish bar from the Scandinavian designer Gesa Hansen, who bases her company and atelier, The Hansen Family, in Germany. But no matter—look at this thing! It's a hand-crafted solid oak trunk that opens to reveal a home bar, inspired by 19th century traveling trunks.

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