Scandinavian design is synonymous with on-trend. Its minimalist lines, layered textures, mixed timbers, and spacious aesthetic each participate to create a rugged refinement that’s widely esteemed.
Its organic good looks have enthralled us for over a century now without appearing dated. That is some serious allure. To steal from Shakespeare –
“Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale
Her infinite variety. Other women cloy
The appetites they feed, but she makes hungry
Where most she satisfies.” (Antony & Cleopatra, Act II Scii, ll.246-9)*
*You like? A bit of culture… 🙂
So why has Scandinavian design endured so long?
Perhaps the secret lies in Scandinavian design’s marriage of opposites – masculine with feminine, clean lines with organic textures… Or perhaps its power lies in its raison d’être – a desire to bring a “democratic design” to the masses where beauty meets functionality to improve the quality of life.
The term “Scandinavian design” grew out of an exhibition of the same name that toured USA and Canada from 1954-1957. Yet the origins of Scandinavian style were sown in the preceding decades.
With the rise of modernism in the late 19th century, Europe experienced a renewed appreciation of the handmade. Modernism itself had arisen in reaction to realism (and the birth of photography), conspiring against realism’s conservative restraints and its monotonous uniformity.
Art Nouveau revived the arts and crafts movement in the face of the industrial revolution. It placed Romanticism and folk arts back on the agenda. The decorative arts took their inspiration from nature, prioritising human creativity over the regularity of the machine.
Scandinavian design got its start in these competing environs. It was born between the organic lines, subtle decorative elements and craftsmanship of Art Nouveau, the precision of the Machine Age, and the futility and constraints of war. This cultural legacy created an aesthetic that prioritised beauty, humanism, and democratic ideals.
Unlike the US and other parts of Europe, the Nordic states (Denmark, Sweden, Norway et al) experienced a delayed industrialisation in the interwar period. Scandinavian design sought to emphasise the individual, the unique, and promote the domestic environment.
SCANDINAVIAN DESIGN’S 5 FOUNDING PRINCIPLES
Function at the foreground
This lies at the essence of Scandinavian style and dates back hundreds of years to times when survival couldn’t be taken for granted. Scandinavian design specialises in utilitarian excellence.
Feed the emotional needs
With the sophistication of culture, survival came easier. And with it, the desire to feed the emotional needs of the populace. The democratic impulse behind Scandinavian design – to enhance the everyday with superior design – therefore became increasingly concerned with aesthetic.
Find the light
With the lengthy Nordic winters delivering little sunlight, luring light into interiors was important. This has now become a fundamental element of this look that is echoed globally.
Scandinavian design was influenced by the Bauhaus, De Stijl, Futurism + Dada movements among others in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It is a progressive style that pares things back to essentials of form + colour, as well as experimenting with abstraction.
Fuse grace with vibrant colour pops
Scandinavian style has an inherent elegance – but that doesn’t mean that it cannot be dynamic. (See the works of the above gents for proof!) Vibrant colour pops add edge to this aesthetic.
We hope this helps you to apply a little of this luxe style to your home. Later this month we’ll be exploring a fusion of Hampton’s and Scandinavian style for a rustic yet elegant look.
Watch this space. 🙂