Scandinavian Design 101: Understanding the Basics

May 8, 2023 | Scandinavian

Scandinavian design is a popular style known for its minimalist aesthetic, clean lines, and emphasis on functionality. It originated in the Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway in the mid-20th century, and has since spread to other Nordic countries like Finland and Iceland.

Although the terms “Scandinavian” and “Nordic” are sometimes used interchangeably, “Nordic” actually refers to the broader region that includes not only the Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, but also Iceland and Finland. However, in the world of design, both terms are often used to describe the same style since they share many similar characteristics.

History of Scandinavian Design

Scandinavian design emerged in the mid-20th century, around the 1950s, when a group of designers and architects such as Arne Jacobsen, Alvar Aalto, and Hans Wegner, began to focus on creating furniture and home decor that was functional, simple, and affordable. This design movement was in response to the economic and social changes that followed World War II, when there was a need for practical and affordable design solutions for everyday living. The principles of Scandinavian design were based on simplicity, minimalism, and functionality, and the designers sought to create pieces that were both aesthetically pleasing and practical for daily use.

Key Characteristics of Scandinavian Design

  • Light and airy: Scandinavian design often features light and airy interiors, with large windows that let in natural light. This creates a bright and inviting atmosphere that is perfect for the long, dark winters in the Nordic countries.
  • Natural materials: Wood, leather, and other natural materials are often used in Scandinavian design. This reflects the connection that Nordic people have with nature and their desire to bring a bit of the outdoors inside.
  • Functionality: Scandinavian design is known for its practicality and functionality. Furniture and other objects are designed to be both beautiful and useful, with a focus on simplicity and minimalism.
  • Neutral colors: Scandinavian design typically features a neutral color palette, with shades of white, gray, and black. This helps to create a calm and serene atmosphere, and allows the natural materials and textures to take center stage.
  • Coziness: Despite its minimalism, Scandinavian design is also known for its coziness and warmth. This is achieved through the use of soft textiles, such as blankets and throws, as well as the use of warm lighting and candles.

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