Sigvard Bernadotte was the first member of the Swedish Royal Family to get an academic degree when he in 1929 graduate with a bachelor’s in art history and English at Uppsala University. Thereafter Bernadotte got prompted by the architect Ferdinand Boberg to study art, and he began taking lessons from the artist Olle Hjortsberg.
Bernadotte continued to study decorative arts at the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm, and it is said that he was one of the artists that contributed to the Stockholm exhibition in 1930, where one of the aims was to get artists to collaborate with the production industry. According to Bernadotte himself he saw this as the birth of the industrial design. After designing a couple of silver objects for NK in Stockholm in 1930, he got an invitation to work with the Danish company George Jensen, a collaboration that continued until 1980. Bernadotte was the first of the company’s designers to work with geometrical shapes instead of the naturalistic style of the Arts & Crafts movement, of which the cutlery set Model 9 from 1939 is a clear example.
In 1934 Bernadotte lost his royal privileges when he married Erika Patzek in London. The couple spent the 30’s in Berlin, where Bernadotte worked as a scenographer in the German movie industry, and in Hollywood where he even tried on acting.
Back in Copenhagen in the 1940’s, Bernadotte founded the industrial design studio Bernadotte & Bjørn Industridesign in 1950, together with the Danish designer Acton Bjørn. The studio became something of a nursery for the first generation of Scandinavian industrial designers. The firm was engaged by among others Bang & Olufsen, Facit and Husqvarna. The designers that worked on the cases were, to name a few, Jacob Jensen, Jan Trägårdh and Henrik Wahlfors.
Bernadotte himself designed the typewriter Facit Privat for Facit and the laminate tabletop Virrvarr for Perstorp. As a furniture designer, he is best known for an armchair made of chromium plated metal, leather and palisander. In 1964, Bernadotte & Bjørn disestablished, and Bernadotte founded a design studio in his own name.
Sigvard Bernadotte died in 2002 at the age of 95.