Get to know Knut and Marianne

Portrait of grey-blond man and woman, Knut Hagberg and Marianne Hagberg, photographed against a black wall.
Portrait of grey-blond man and woman, Knut Hagberg and Marianne Hagberg, photographed against a black wall.

How do you become a creative human being? For designers and siblings Knut Hagberg and Marianne Hagberg, the answer lies in their childhood. A playful, artistic home laid the foundation for this one-of-a-kind design duo. With 2,137 products in 41 years they are unique in their productivity, creativity and their sense of artistic craft.

A creative profession was basically written in the stars; their mother was an artist with a home studio, and their father had a doctor’s practice nearby. Knut and Marianne moved freely between their parents’ different worlds. One moment they were sneaking into the practice to X-ray their toys, and the next they were sculpting in mum’s studio. After training at Frederiksberg Technical College in Copenhagen, they both became furniture and interior designers. In 1979 they started at IKEA, and that’s where they stayed. Here you will learn more about these super-siblings, hear about how they worked, and find out more about some of the thousands of products they’ve designed.

Knut and Marianne’s imaginative games during childhood laid the foundation of something that would influence the homes of millions. Indeed, you could say that their free creativity is now packaged in IKEA flat packs all over the world. Let’s have a look inside.

Marianne Hagberg and Knut Hagberg, 1980s.


“Wow, what a decade!”

“The 1980s were really a time of entrepreneurialism. IKEA wanted to bolster its design, put its own stamp on the products. I think that was why we were employed, and we got started straight away. We went to China, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan and Malaysia and developed products. We flew on rickety Tupolev planes and drove along bumpy roads to get to our fantastic suppliers. There was a great sense of freedom and playfulness in the 1980s. Bright colours were mixed like the Memphis Group, materials were mixed, there was a lot of chrome, and visible structures became a thing. A fun and honest time.”


“Things got a bit fancy!”

“We had fun the whole time, but the 1990s were a bit more brown and black and yuppie-like. A bit posh and ladylike with floral-pattern sofas. This was the time we had children, and we worked a lot with children’s furniture. And lighting! We made loads of lighting during the Nineties. Black, silver, painted, chrome. The GLITTRA lamp was made in Murano, Italy. The same supplier that made Ettore Sottsass’s products, in fact. We also created the huge ROBIN series and worked with foil furniture in a new way.”


“Oh, how we worked!”

“This was when we made the ÄPPLARÖ outdoor furniture in acacia. And we were also given a real challenge with aspen, a wood mainly used to make matches. We created the OTTENBY series of solid aspen furniture, with latticed chipboard shelves. We have always striven for a craft-like feel in the streamlined production as it lends the furniture character and attitude. That was also our thinking when we revamped the IKEA Family range, which included the UPPTÄCKA series. We also worked a lot with plastic and IKEA invested in large production machines, so we could produce efficiently and end up with low costs for our customers. We made loads of furniture out of plastic: computer workstations, drawer units and easy chairs. And most of it had to have wheels.”



“This is when we were given truly free rein to apply our experience to exciting new projects. We were part of the whole journey in the development of the wedge dowel, which was then used in the LISABO series. When we saw the little wooden plug construction, we realised it was something absolutely amazing. What a revolution – no metal fittings, in fact no visible fittings at all. We who love working with new technical solutions – this was really creating a better everyday life for the many people. Simpler and more attractive.”

“In all the years we’ve worked at IKEA, everyday life and the family have always been important sources of inspiration. We discovered all kinds of new things looking at how people live in the everyday. And making something attractive and beautiful and reasonably priced out of the little everyday products is just so much fun!”

Hagberg + Hagberg

In their 41 years at IKEA, super-siblings Knut Hagberg and Marianne Hagberg designed more than 2,000 products. And whether it’s a shoe horn or a sofa, it is always designed with good form, smart function and sustainable quality, at a reasonable price.