Scandinavian designer Bernt Friberg - master potter of Sweden

The Swedish thrower Berndt Friberg (1899-1981) is renowned as one of the leading Scandinavian designers in the field of 20thCentury ceramics. His vases are characterized by delicate and sensuous forms and known by the unique colour effects of the glazes, he developed through constant experimentation.

Friberg was born into a family of ceramists and began his career at the tender age of 13 when he started working at the pottery in his hometown Höganäs (also known for the iconic Scandinavian design brand Höganäs keramik) , located on the western coast in south Sweden. Five years later he left Höganäs and after working at smaller factories in both Denmark and Sweden he was employed as a thrower for Wilhelm Kåge at the legendary Swedish porcelain company Gustavsberg in 1934. With Friberg in the workshop the forms of Kåge’s works were noticeably improved. So far the vases had been thrown in three pieces and then put together, but the talented Friberg elegantly threw the objects in one piece, giving Kåge new creative opportunities. It was also Friberg’s master craftsmanship that made possible the large Argenta vase presented to the city of Paris in connection with the World Exhibition in 1937. Designed by Kåge and made by Friberg, the vase was 75 cm high, weighing 42 kilos.

Kåge & Gustavsberg

While working for Kåge, Friberg experimented with his own designs and glazes. In the 1930s his pieces were a little compact and heavy, but during the 1940s he refined his idiom into more elegant, slender and yet sensuous forms. In 1942 he established his own studio at Gustavsberg and from 1945 he was fully engaged in his own production. In his own work Friberg experimented with very thin-walled creations; still throwing most of the pieces himself. His vases are characterized by a classic timelessness; slender, cylindrical silhouettes and rounded fruitlike forms. The glazes he used were complex and developed after years of constant research and systematic experimentation. It is said that he had recipes to more than 200 glaze variations. Whereas Kåge dipped his pieces in dense, viscous glaze, Friberg used glazes with a varying viscosity and sprayed the glaze on the vases, knowing accurately how the chemical composition of the different layers would react in the kiln. In this manner he was able to bring about a matchless colouring, structure and depth.

Friberg was awarded gold medals at the Milan Triennale in 1948, 1951 and 1954.

Over the years we have sold many items from Bernt Friberg and continue to sell some of his fine ceramics regularly. Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you're looking for items from this Master Potter.


Our current selection of fine Scandinavian design and other ceramics: