At the age of 18 Carl Bergsten began studying architecture at the Royal Institute of Technology form where he graduated in 1901. From 1901 to 1903 he also studied architecture at the building Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm.
After completing his studies, Bergsten worked together with architect Erik Lallerstedt but later started his own studio that he ran until his death in 1935. Some of Bergsten’s most prolific work as architect are the Jugend-style church Hjorthagens kyrka in the suburb of Stockholm (1909) and the Gothenburg municipal theater (1924). In 1927-1928 Bergsten designed the interiors to the ocean liner M/S Kungsholm, in transatlantic service for the Swedish America Line until 1941. Kungsholm´s interior is an example of the Nordic classicism at its best.
Bergsten is however best known for designing the art gallery Liljevalchs at Djurgården in Stockholm, that was constructed in 1914-17. For the interior of the art gallery, Bergsten also designed the armchair Liljevalchs, made of birch wood and with an upholstered seat and back. The building and its interior are regarded as one of the greatest expressions of Swedish Grace.
Bergsten’s first furniture he designed for his own home and to the café at the Norrköping Exhibition in 1906 (for which he was also chief architect). His style was a form of firm art nouveau, with more architecture and aesthetics than function and practicality. The chairs for the Norrköping exhibition were made in bent wood technique by Gemla, with an oval back, a round seat and an oval-formed bow against the floor. It is said that the waiters in café constantly tripped on the bow, which led to it often being cut off.
During 1904 Bergsten visited Vienna where he was strongly affected by the works of Wiener Werkstätte (founded in 1903). He was especially influenced by the works of the architect Josef Hoffmann who embodied the close connection between architecture and the art industry. The stricter Scottish art nouveau with designers such as Charles Rennie Mackintosh was also a big influence for Bergsten.
From 1917-1921 Bergsten was head of the furniture division at the NK department store in Stockholm, where he among others designed the armchair Mörby. From 1925 to 1931 he was a building councilor for the Swedish building board. Bergsten was the chief architect for the Swedish participation at world fair in Paris in 1925.
In 1930 he participated at the Stockholm Exhibition with an armchair made of sycamore, ebony, metal and leather. He was vice chairman of the board for the exhibition, as well as a member of the working- and building committee. Bergsten worked as a teacher and acting professor at, among others the Royal Insitute of Technology and the Royal Academy of Arts. He was a member of the board on several award-committees and organizations such as the Swedish Society of Crafts and Design (today Svensk Form). Bergsten died in 1935 at the age of 56.