Norwegian furniture company Vestre and designers Andreas Engesvik and Jonas Stokke have created furniture for the Munchmuseet, or Munch Museum, in Oslo, opened in October 2021 and designed by Spanish architecture firm Estudio Herreros. Dubbed ‘The Munch Series’, the Munch Museum furniture collection comprises chairs and tables used for the café, as well as sofas, benches, and lounge chairs used throughout the space.

Seating at the Munch Museum

A blue sofa at the Munch Museum, shown on a low plinth in front of a landscape painting by the Norwegian artist
Sofa displayed in front of Edvard Munch’s Moonlight (1895)

‘Even if it is a museum, things do not have to be uncomfortable,’ says Stokke. ‘You can quickly draw some narrow flat wooden benches with thin leather cushions. But we wanted visitors to be able to take a break and really rest. And then you are going to need ergonomics in the back and a shaped seat.’ 

Designed in collaboration with Engesvik (the two designers, as well as Vestre, won a public competition to design the series in 2017), the furniture pieces feature layers of steel mesh arranged over steel frames and moulded cushions made of wool textile. The materials were chosen to complement the design: the frame’s weight helps maintain stability, the steel mesh was chosen for maximum ergonomics, and the cushions offer a tactile feel to achieve comfort and warmth. 

Chair displayed in front of Edvard Munch’s View from Nordstrand (1900–1901)

‘The museum is also built so that you can move upwards, directly to a special department, without going through all the halls,’ continues Stokke. ‘We wanted to make room for a break exactly where the visitors come out of one department and are on their way to move on to the next one.’

The colour palette was another important element to consider; the designers analysed hundreds of Munch’s paintings and worked closely with Norwegian paint maker Jotun to create bespoke shades for the furniture. The resulting three colours, dusty pink, ochre yellow and dark blue, are dubbed ‘Skin’, ‘Hair’, and ‘Night’, and reflect the design duo’s personal interpretations of the art on display. 

Two metal chairs in green and a small coffee table in yellow, shown in front of a picture of a bright blue sky
Chairs and table for the café at the Munch Museum

Like all Vestre products, the Munch Museum furniture is made to last: all elements have been welded together, galvanized, and varnished, making the pieces extremely durable and suitable as both indoor and outdoor furniture. Each piece was made so that even if its colour fades after a few decades, it will be easy to sandblast it and repaint it. ‘The museum will attract people from all over the world: it is a perfect arena to promote what we call everyday democracy, meeting places where people can come together and share thoughts, life experiences, and exchange ideas,’ says Thomas Sund, Vestre’s vice CEO.

‘When something is really good and of high quality, it becomes universal,’ adds Engesvik. ‘The design is very basic, it has no secrets. If people understand what they see, they feel safe.’ §