“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Scandinavian Style is timeless and easy to achieve – Happy Scandi-designing
The Team at Cimmermann