Carved wooden animals to rewild to your tabletop

These carved wooden animals, from polar bears to dogs and birds, make collectable and and finely crafted companions

Wooden animals: shorebirds by Sigurjón Pálsson
(Image credit: Courtesy Normann Copenhagen)

We have a hard time resisting the charm of these carved wooden animals. Designed by some of today's leading creatives (as well as some great masters from the past), the little creatures offer a moment of joy and humour and are the perfect addition to enliven a bookcase or home office desk. Whether you’re a dog person or prefer wilder fauna, choose yours, or start a collection. 

Wooden animals: collect them all

Wooden Animals by Floris Hovers for Ikonic Toys

Floris Hovers Wooden animals colourful set

(Image credit: Courtesy Floris Hovers)

Dutch designer Floris Hovers is perhaps best known for his ‘duotone’ stylised wooden cars, vans and trucks, but his collection of wooden animals offers a new expressive point of view on minimalist design. Available in a natural beechwood or as a more realistic painted set, the collection features square elephants, a drinking giraffe, a flat ridged crocodile, a triangular bird and more.

‘Lundi’ wooden puffin by Sigurjon Palsson, from Epal

Epal wooden puffin by Sigurjon Palsson

(Image credit: Courtesy Epal)

Sigurjón Pálsson has created many designs inspired by Icelandic fauna, from sheeps to shorebirds (below). His wooden puffin for Reykjavik department store Epal is perhaps the most expressive in his oeuvre, featuring a magnetic head that attaches to the body to change its orientation as desired.

Norppa Rocking Toy by Studiomama for Vaarnii

Vaarnii Norppa rocking seal

(Image credit: Courtesy Vaarnii)

Studiomama’s minimalist Norppa rocking seal for Finnish design brand Vaarnii is sculptural and joyful. The rocking toy is a progression of designers Jack Mama and Nina Thulstrup’s exploration of wooden animals, which they have been assembling in their workshop in East London from scraps of wood and found parts. Like all of Vaarnii’s pieces, the stylised seal silhouette is rendered in pine, the wood grain mimicking the animal’s skin, and the piece raises awareness of the endangered seal species.
Available from
Finnish Design Shop

‘Isbjørn’ wooden polar bear by Arne Tjomsland, from Eikund

‘Isbjørn’ wooden polar bear by arne tjomsland, reissued by Eikund.

(Image credit: Photography: Einar Aslaksen)

Designer Morten Hippe joined forces with furniture maker Frode Tingbø and a mutual friend, former professional footballer Jørgen Tengesdal, to set up Eikund to bring classic mid-20th century Norwegian designs back to life, or, as Hippe himself puts it, ‘to highlight the geniality of Norway’s long-lost design history for the world to see’. Alongside their furniture production is ‘Isbjørn’, a wooden polar bear by Arne Tjomsland created in 1955, its stylised form as simple as it is expressive. In the 1940s and 1950s, Tjomsland worked in advertising and as a designer for the Kon-Tiki Museum in Oslo, before setting up his own carving workshop at home. The bear is the first piece of many he created, inspired by his time at the museum as a child.

Available from via

16 Animali Puzzle by Enzo Mari for Danese

Enzo Mari animal puzzle

(Image credit: Courtesy Danese)

In the late 1950s, Enzo Mari met entrepreneur Bruno Danese, whose eponymous brand's mission was to bring art into everyday life. With Danese, Mari created one of his best-known and loved pieces, the ‘16 Animali’ wooden puzzle. From a single piece of oak wood, Mari designed 16 animals through one continuous cut, an object that was inspired by his research into Scandinavian children’s toys, and his own children. Each animal is designed as an object of its own, also fitting neatly within a minimalist puzzle structure: an exercise in formal creativity.

The Koala Kit by Torafu Architects for Ishinomaki Laboratory

Koala Kit by Ishinomaki Laboratory: wooden koalas

(Image credit: Masaki Ogawa)

Ishinomaki Laboratory was founded by Keiji Ashizawa and Takahiro Chiba as a workshop for people devastated by the 2011 tsunami in Japan. Described by its founders as a DIY furniture company, the brand's furniture production is based on essential constructions featuring straight boards of wood. Among its furniture and accessories' production is a series of smaller objects, called 'Kits', that people can assemble and customise at home: these include wooden elephants, koalas, birds and penguins by Torafu Architects, the simplicity of composition enhancing the creatures' expressiveness.
Available in Japan at and in Australia at

‘Oscar’ Dog by Hans Bølling for Architectmade

Wooden dog by hand bolling

(Image credit: Luk & Nik)

Wooden animal figurines are nonagenarian designer Hans Bølling’s best-known creations: they include Oscar, an affable, droopy-eared dog designed in 1953, and an elegant duck with its squat little duckling from 1957, initially crafted as gifts for his wife and their two children. The creatures are now produced by Danish brand Architectmade, which boasts a collection of wooden animals including Bølling’s designs as well as pandas by Bjarke Ingels and owls by Paul Anker Hansen.

Shorebirds by Sigurjón Pálsson for Normann Copenhagen

Wooden animals: wooden birds by Normann Copenhagen

(Image credit: Courtesy Normann Copenhagen)

Inspired by the ubiquitous Icelandic Shorebird, designer Sigurjón Pálsson's collection for Normann Copenhagen is infused with character and minimalism. Turned from solid oak, the birds' silhouette is caught in action and expressively respects the animal's proportions while being essential in its form. The wooden birds are available in natural oak and in a series of colours including white, black yellow, blue, pink and green.

'Amaranth' ducks by Lars Beller Fjetland for Bottega Ghianda

Amaranth ducks by Lars Beller Fjetland and Bottega Ghianda

(Image credit: Alessandro Sorci)

Originally commissioned by Wallpaper* for our final Handmade exhibition in 2019, these beautifully crafted ducks were inspired by the Korean tradition of gifting newlyweds a pair of wooden waterbirds to symbolise their nuptials. With the help of the Bottega Ghianda craftsmen, Lars Beller Fjetland has carved, shaped and polished his own flock of (featherless) friends, creating a design that has more to it than first meets the eye. Each features a secret compartment for concealing a single wooden ring. While one duck is made from maple, two have been produced from amaranth – a species of wood also known as purpleheart, which gradually changes colour with the passing of time.

Rosa Bertoli was born in Udine, Italy, and now lives in London. Since 2014, she has been the Design Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees design content for the print and online editions, as well as special editorial projects. Through her role at Wallpaper*, she has written extensively about all areas of design. Rosa has been speaker and moderator for various design talks and conferences including London Craft Week, Maison & Objet, The Italian Cultural Institute (London), Clippings, Zaha Hadid Design, Kartell and Frieze Art Fair. Rosa has been on judging panels for the Chart Architecture Award, the Dutch Design Awards and the DesignGuild Marks. She has written for numerous English and Italian language publications, and worked as a content and communication consultant for fashion and design brands.