Scandinavian Style Uncovered

“Beautiful things that make your life better” – An Underlying Concept of Scandinavian Design

Scandinavian style is an enduring design movement that we love. It’s all about clean lines, natural fabrics and a simple approach to modern living.

At its core, Scandinavian Design is about survival. The long hours of darkness in the winter months, the scarcity of raw materials, and, often harsh conditions in the far north are key to understanding this movement’s themes of minimalism, simplicity, and above all functionality.

Ikea Kitchen
Ikea Kitchen – sums up  minimialism, simplicity and functionality styled up with plywood worktop and simple tiles
A growing post-war influence

Scandinavian design began to grow in influence from the 1950s to today. Its characteristics are instantly recognizable; a common look across architecture, furniture, fashion and textiles.

Reflecting the spread of social-consciousness in these countries post-war, Scandinavian style has democratic principles at its heart – making high-quality design available to the masses, through the use of low-cost materials such as wood and plastics, and the mass production methods that were becoming more widely-used by the middle of the 20th century.

Scandinavian Style - Cool Kitchen
Cool Scandinavian Kitchen with a great mix of materials
Scandinavians spend a lot of time at home to escape the darkness and cold outside, so the design aesthetic is dedicated to making the domestic environment as comfortable and easy as possible, and to bringing the beauty of nature indoors.

There are plentiful institutions and awards bodies, which promote Scandinavian design and encourage innovation, and many of its brands have now become global household names.


Some of the best-known proponents of modern Finnish style are bringing the traditions of 1950s modernism into the 21st century with enviable success. As an indication of its importance, a government programme called Wasp works with Finnish schools to deliver architectural and design education, and awareness of professional roles.

Style Focus: Marimekko

Defined by its creator as “a cultural phenomenon guiding the quality of living,” this major design company now has an outlet on 5th Avenue in New York. Marimekko’s ethos is driven by authenticity and a refusal to follow trends for the sake of it. Their patterned fabrics were hugely influential in the 1960s, and Marimekko designs have been worn by Jackie Onassis, and Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City.

Scandinavian Style - Marimekko Unikko
The Marimekko Unikko Fabric – a true Design Classic
Scandinavian Style - Marimekko
White, calming and simple – Scandinavian Style by Marimekko

Swedish style is very light and soothing, and although the furniture of IKEA often takes centre-stage, it should be noted that glassware, textiles and ceramics, as well as industrial design, are also extremely popular. There are nearly 3000 design firms in Sweden, dotted around the country, and the industry has seen massive growth over the last two decades.

Style Focus: IKEA

There are five components to IKEA’s democratic design process: Form, Function, Sustainability, Quality and Low Price. One of the world’s most well-known furnishings brands, which uses 1% of the Earth’s wood supply, they conduct many home visits every year to learn about people’s needs, the better to inform their design decisions. Many of their flat-packed self-assembly products, with their clean, simple lines, have gone on to become iconic.

Ikea Favourite Products
Iconic Ikea Products, some real classics that when mixed with more designer lead furniture can be exceptional


For many years in the shadows, Norway is now a rising star of Scandi Style, due to an emerging breed of extremely talented young designers, and a government-backed effort to promote the country’s design industry to business. A recent innovation is Cinsona Packaging, created to help ensure medicines are not used incorrectly – a perfect example of functionality in design.

Style Focus: Variér

Originally part of the famous Stokke AS group, Variér is now a well-established brand in its own right. The company manufactures modern chairs which are notable for possessing unconventional styles but also incorporating ergonomic design to encourage movement whilst sitting. They pioneered the now widely-used kneeling chair, which reduces tension in the upper body.


Danish design was heavily influenced by the German Bauhaus movement, with industrial elements and hand-crafted styles prominent. There are numerous design museums throughout Denmark showcasing its proud history. Again with simplicity and function at its core, a vital example of Danish design is the Sydney Opera House (designed by legendary architect Jorn Utzon), a ground-breaking structure recognisable around the world.

Sydney Opera House designed by Jorn Utzon
Sydney Opera House designed by Jorn Utzon

Style Focus: Verner Panton

Like his countryman Arne Jacobsen, this Danish interior and furniture designer was controversial in his own time, but his works continue to have mass appeal and are still in production today. Working with vibrant, colourful stylistic flourishes and a Modernist approach to materials including hardened plastic, his masterpiece, the stackable “S” chair, has gone on to become a design classic.

Panton Chair
Vitra Verner Panton Chair, very simple and so recognisable.

Scandinavian Style is timeless and easy to achieve – Happy Scandi-designing

The Team at Cimmermann


Danish Design Blog



Design Council

Norsk Design
Smashing Magazine


Scandinavian Style – The Things We Love About it

Scandinavian design emerged in the 1950s in the Scandinavian countries Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland. It is a design movement characterized by simplicity, minimalism and functionality. Soft subtle colour pallettes are often favoured with oak or walnut wood finishes.

The Lunning Prize, awarded to outstanding Scandinavian designers between 1951 and 1970, was instrumental in both making Scandinavian design a recognized commodity, and in defining the profile of Scandinavian design. Since 2006, the tradition of a pan-Nordic design award has been resumed with the Forum AID Award.

The idea that beautiful and functional everyday objects should not only be affordable to the wealthy, but to all, is a core theme in the development of modernism and functionalism. This was realised in post-WWII Scandinavian design. The ideological background was the emergence of a particular Scandinavian form of social democracy in the 1950s, as well as the increased availability of new low-cost materials and methods for mass production. Scandinavian design often makes use of form-pressed wood, plastics, anodized or enamelled aluminum or pressed steel.

Some of the most influential designers in the Scandinavian Design movement included Verner Panton, Arne Jacobsen, Nils Strinning and Hans Wegner. From the modern crop of design companies Muuto and HAY lead the way with their simple and affordable furniture/lighting designs. The colour palettes that both companies use are bang on trend but at the same time timeless. The soft pinks, greens and greys mix so well with oak wood.

Muuto and HAY
Muuto and HAY furniture, pinks, greys and greens

Designed in 1949 by Nils Strinning the String shelving system sums up Scandinavian design at its best. It is modular, simple, practical, affordable and comes in a range of beautiful colours. To think a design so simple still looks as good today as the day it was designed is a testament to design genius.

String Pocket
String Pocket shelving in Ash and White

 Gubi the Danish design house offer a real mix of Scandinavian classics by the likes of Greta Grossman, particular favourite is the Grasshopper Light. The colours of the products they design are truly Scandinavian and the furniture is mainly made from Wood. The earthy tones in the image below is Scandinavian to the core and is warmed up with the luxurious Walnut chairs and table.

Gubi Ronde Light
Gubi Ronde light and dining set – lovely warm colours
&Tradition Mayor Sofa
&Tradition Mayor Sofa in a beautiful yellow tone
Scandinavian Design
Dark tones, set off by the beautiful &Tradition Ice Chandelier

 &Tradition a Danish design company are real favourites here at Cimmermann. There mix of Design Classics by the likes of Verner Panton  and more modern designs by the likes of Benjamin Hubert make for an exciting company to look out for.

Scandinavian Kitchen
Lovely Green colour and marble top in this Scandinavian Kitchen. Image courtesy of Pinterest

Scandinavian Style offers simple and classic design, hope we have inspired you to go Nordic!!!

The Team at Cimmermann

Credits and Links:


My Scandinavian Home Blogspot

Design Boom – Forum AID Award