Scandinavian design is a term to represent a design movement characterised by simplicity, minimalism and functionality that emerged in the 1950s in the five Nordic countries of Finland, Norway, Sweden, Iceland and Denmark. While the term Scandinavia only refers to the three kingdoms of Denmark, Sweden and Norway, it can be used colloquially to refer to all five of these countries
Maximum style with minimum fuss is what Scandinavian/Nordic interior design is all about.
Simplicity and function are the guiding principles that have shaped the design sensibilities of Nordic Europe, resulting in spaces suffused with light, airiness, serenity and a feeling of oneness with nature.
A mélange of trends from Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland, Scandinavian interior design principles play up natural elements, favour neutral colour palettes, keep lines simple and squeeze optimal function out of every part of the décor.
The simple chic of this fuss-free style has won converts the world over.
The Scandinavian interior design took the world by storm after the 1947 edition of the Triennale di Milano, a popular design exhibition in the Italian city of Milan. Furniture, glassware and home accessories from the Nordic countries were a sensation at the show and became a rage around the world soon after.
Capitalising on this new popularity, the Design in Scandinavia show travelled across the U.S. and Canada from 1954 through 1957. Fascination with Scandinavian design ideas grew even more as a result.
It’s interesting how differently Scandinavian trends evolved from design in the rest of Europe, which generally favoured opulent and ornate décor inspired by the luxurious lifestyles of aristocracy and royalty. The Nordic people charted a different design course, preferring the practical to the plush, picking function over frills.
Life in the region was primarily responsible for shaping Scandinavian design. Long, harsh winters with very few hours of daylight kept people indoors for many months. Besides, most people lived in small houses. So it was imperative to make homes feel cosy yet airy, with every object in it reflecting as much ambient light as possible.
Quite like the people, the emerging design sensibility was egalitarian, shunning the ornate and celebrating simple elegance that seemed accessible to all. The result was a style that masterfully combined beauty with practicality.
Though the popularity of Scandinavian design waned somewhat in the 1980s, it soared again in the following decade when the style was reinterpreted. The 1990s saw designers in Scandinavian countries treating every object they fashioned for use in décor as individual units of design, creating bold and unique statement pieces.
“Less is more,” wrote poet Robert Browning in the 19th century. He couldn’t have known then that he was unwittingly encapsulating the very essence of a design trend that would take shape in the Scandinavian region almost a hundred years later. A one-word definition of Scandinavian interior design would be minimalism.
A quite noticeable trend in recent seasons concerns the Nordic style, which is increasingly appreciated and interpreted by many interior designers.
The true Nordic home is itself a blend of various styles: it has a minimalist Swedish imprint, the romantic allure of Danish design, and the play on black and white contrasts typical of Finnish houses. The result: an environment that combines practicality, aesthetics and the well-being of its inhabitants.
The Northern European countries teach us a lot about how to use light, and materials that allow you to capture and radiate it within a space. The Nordic design is highly complex, precisely because it is generally disguised in items of great simplicity, which has made it popular and widely present in our homes, giving a touch of comfort blended with elegance.
Light, bright colours, simple and minimal lines…won’t everything be just a little “cold”? Not if combined with wood, the quintessential warm material. With a simple juxtaposition of two different souls, the magic is made.
A key principle of the true Nordic style is the respect for the environment, through the use of recycled raw materials which are in turn recyclable.