Scandinavian design emerged as a movement in the 1950s, and is characterised by functionality, simplicity and minimalism inspired by the rise of social democratic politics. Functionalist and Modernist architecture has a major influence on Scandinavian design, even to this day. Indeed, fashion, design and architecture are amongst some of the Scandinavian countries’ (Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland) major exports.
For those of you looking for new design ideas, here are some suggestions for bringing a Scandinavian style to your home…
Sofas are usually curved in order to give them a warm and inviting feel. Scandinavian-style sofas are also muted in colour, with a focus on simplicity of design. To paraphrase Danish designer Hans Wegner: “Danish style … [is] to cut down to the simplest possible elements of four legs, a seat and combined top rail and arm rest …”. Tables (sometimes folding for easy storage), wardrobes and other furniture items are made with clean, sleek, straight lines and a definite sense of direction (very few unusual, surreal designs here, although this is not a strict rule by any means). Multi-purpose furniture is also popular in Scandinavia.
Lighting is of utmost importance in Scandinavian design, and maximising the light from natural sources is vital. A truly Scandinavian room ought to feel ‘breezy’ yet welcoming. Having several sources of artificial light is important as well, thanks to the long dark periods during Scandinavian winters.
Most homes in Scandinavia are fitted with a wood- and/or coal- burning fireplace due to the harsh winters. However, unlike in Britain, Scandinavian fireplaces are relatively small and placed in the corner of a room. Image credit
Eco-Friendly & Natural Materials
The people of Scandinavia are lucky enough to live in some rather stunning surroundings, and their love of the outdoors is reflected in the make up of their living rooms. Recycled furniture, wooden flooring and walls, ground-sourced heat pumps, triple glazing, Eco- friendliness and energy efficiency are all big in Scandinavia, as is using natural materials that have been worked in a traditional, hand-crafted manner. The relationship between ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ is more fluid in Scandinavian countries.
Whilst it is somewhat true that ‘less is more’, when it comes to accessorising a room the Scandinavian way this is not always the case. Much of Swedish art and architecture in the 18th Century was Rococo-inspired, with Gustavian styles coming in later in the 1700s – and both of these styles are far more ornamental than the more minimalist mid-20th Century Scandinavian designs.
Cool, icy blues, greys, off-whites and muted tones are often de rigueur when it comes to living room colours in Scandinavia. However, once again, this is only part of the story. There is a penchant for the colourful, as the floral patterned, almost psychedelic works of Josef Frank prove.
Contemporary Scandinavian styles are inspired by graphic design. Clarity, elegance and a room that is not overwhelming on the eyes in terms of objects, patterns and colours inform what a Scandinavian room looks like. Superfluousness is to be avoided at all times and simplicity hailed.