On the 11th floor of the Merchandise Mart sits a Nordic design hub of activity and excitement – even when the showroom is utterly devoid of people. One may have
noticed the new Scandinavian Spaces location during
NeoCon as tides of onlookers flowed through, lounging on the sofas, having conversations in the moss
alcove and seemingly conducting meetings over a
series of seating systems. But even if you missed the
NeoCon introduction, the bevy of awards and mentions in the short few months since June has left many
in the industry wondering whether the Scandinavian
furniture company appeared seemingly overnight.
The answer: yes and no.
Brothers and co-owners Thomas and Robert
Jönsson have been working diligently since 2011
to grow the Scandinavian Spaces brand. After seven
years of attending NeoCon, they invested in their own
showroom in Chicago. The electrifyingly colorful show-
room, designed by Ghislaine Viñas, won Best Small Showroom and intro-
duced the brand to the wider commercial design market. Since then, they’ve
increased their sales team and reach, utilizing the momentum gained through
the annual trade show.
Things have moved quickly.
However, the Jönsson brothers grew up with an entrepreneurial father
who saw modernistic simplicity – a hallmark in their native Sweden – was
missing from American office designs. Although working in tech sales during
the ‘90s, the elder Jönsson decided to tap into the demand for upgraded
corporate interiors after the dot-com burst.
Thomas and Robert grew up helping their father’s fledgling business,
assembling furniture on weekends.
Both moved on to other fields in college; Thomas received a chemical sci-
ence degree from University of California, Berkeley, while Robert moved to Austin,
Texas, to pursue a finance BA and accounting MA from University of Texas.
As Robert puts it, laughing at the irony, “I said there was no way in hell I
was going to continue our father’s work.”
The stock market once again had other plans for the Jönssons. Robert
called Thomas, convincing him to move to Austin from Stockholm, and
together they approached their parents in purchasing the company with the
goal of bringing Scandinavian design and furniture to the States.
Today they represent nine Scandinavian companies – all of which cur-
interiors | REPORT | By Kadie Yale | Images courtesy of Scandinavian Spaces
Spaces, owned by
onto the design
scene in 2018,
proving it takes
years of hard
work for overnight success.