Sigvard Bernadotte received his primary education at home, then studied at the closed Lundberg boarding school, and in 1926 he entered Uppsala University, the oldest in Scandinavia (founded in 1477), where he studied political science and art history. He became the first member of the Bernadotte family to officially graduate. In 1929 he received his diploma, and in the same year he made his debut as a designer – a stained glass project for a church at the Lundberg School.
In 1929, the prince entered art school at the department of Olle Hjorzberg, who had a strong influence on his work, then Sigvard continued his studies at the Konstfack University College of Arts, Crafts and Design in Stockholm, where he was among the artists who were entrusted with the design of the Stockholm Exhibition of Architecture and 1930 design. This event is considered to be an important milestone in the history of Scandinavian functionalism. The items on display, executed in the style of functionalism, made a great impression on Sigvard, who wrote in his memoirs that it was then that he decided to “give people beautiful everyday objects for the home, kitchen or office.” Thus began his creative career in the art world.
Siegvard’s life changed drastically in 1934 when he decided to marry without getting the consent of the royal family. His wedding to actress Erika Maria Patzek took place on March 8, 1934 in London. But the royal family, descended from the Napoleonic Marshal Bernadotte, did not accept this marriage. A hundred years ago, the marriage of a royal offspring to an actress was too much of a scandal, and therefore the prince was stripped of his title and excluded from the list of heirs to the Swedish throne in accordance with the Act of Succession of 1810 in force at that time, which prohibited marriage between a prince and a “daughter of a private person” (enskild mans dotter).
After the wedding in London, the young couple went to Hollywood, where Erica unsuccessfully tried to arrange her film career, and Siegward was engaged in scenery for the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer company. From 1937 to 1947, Sigvard took part in the making of four films as an assistant director and technical consultant.
In June 1937, the troupe of the London theater “Old Vic” accepted an invitation to perform “Hamlet” in the courtyard of the Danish castle Kronborg, familiar to us from Shakespeare’s play as Elsinore. Starring Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier. It rained incessantly, so the castle ballroom was transformed into a makeshift stage with 800 chairs for the audience, surrounding the dance floor where the actors performed. The production was dedicated to the anniversary of King Christian X. On this occasion, Elsinore was crowded with royalty and socialites. Since then, the play has been staged several times in the castle courtyard.
The history of the legendary designs of Sigvart Bernadotte continues to this day. Georg Jensen has launched a series of BERNADOTTE products, inspired by the works of the famous designer and embodied in modern materials, made using modern technologies.
The design work of Sigvard Bernadotte, of course, was not limited to cooperation with “Georg Jensen”. The range of his design interests is incredibly wide. He worked a lot with ceramics and textiles, and was engaged in industrial design. In the 1950s, together with the designer Acton Bjorn, Sigvard founded the industrial design studio Sigvard Bernadotte & Acton Bjørn. In 1964, he opened his own firm, Bernadotte Design AB.