Lunning Prize (1951-1972) – a showcase for Scandinavian Design

Lunning Prize Book Cover
Lunning Prize Book Cover

Frederik Lunning, a Danish-born businessman and owner of the Georg Jensen Inc. store on Fifth Avenue in New York, created the Lunning Prize award in December 1951. This successful showcase for Danish porcelain and glass was developed in 1924, but supplies were cut off when World War II broke out. After the war, Lunning dispatched Kaj Dessau, the store’s founder, to Scandinavia to source new merchandise. Dessau proposed developing an award scheme for young Scandinavian designers after being highly inspired by the quality of work he saw. As a result, Lunning created a biennial award of $5,000 for designers under the age of 36 whose careers would benefit from studying abroad. 

The jury included members from Sweden’s, Denmark’s, Norway’s, and Finland’s leading design organisations and Lunning’s nominees. The Prize would be presented at an exhibition in Lunning’s New York store for each award winner. The scheme was also started for a secondary reason: promoting Scandinavian design and expanding the market for its products. Hans Wegner and Tapio Wirkkala were the first prizewinners, with Jens Quistgard, Timo Sarpaneva, and Nanna Ditzel following closely behind. The significance of the Prize’s recipients over the past two decades attests to its current and historical value.


Woodham, J. M. (2006). A dictionary of modern design. Oxford University Press.

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