History of Scandinavian Design
Scandinavian design originated in the 1930s as part of the minimalist movement. The name Scandinavian Design was given to a design show that travelled throughout America in the mid-fifties.
The goal of the show was to encourage an alternative style of living. The design aspect was only one part of a collection of philosophies which pushed for harmony with the environment. For instance, furniture should be created to last as long as possible without the need for substitutes.
The lifestyle that the Scandinavian design is a part of emphasized a minimalist approach and this is seen in the furniture too.
Clean lines, simple furniture without ornamentation. Everything was inspired by nature and the materials that the items originated from with exceptional quality throughout.
Scandinavian interior designers who changed the world
The Finnish Aalto was born in 1898. The trained as an architect but was proficient in sculpture and painting. However, he referred to both disciplines as branches of the architectural trunk.
His material of choice was wood and loved to test the limits of laminated birch, a species very plentiful species throughout Finland.
The Paimio Armchair
Aalto is particularly famous for his Paimio armchair, which takes on a tubular design with wood as opposed to the typical metal. His reasoning was for the project itself, the Paimio Sanatorium (for those who don’t know, a sanatorium is a refuge for those with chronic illness).
Patients at the Paimio Sanatorium were being treated for tuberculosis. He was awarded the project after winning a design competition in 1923 and wanted to ensure a warm comforting design.
The lightness of chair is indicative of Scandinavian design
Arne Emil Jacobsen
Jacobsen is a Danish architect and designer, born in Copenhagen, 1902. He’s not called the Grandfather of modern Danish design for nothing.
Designs seemed to come easy to Jacobsen, he produced many recognizable chairs such as the Ant, Egg and Series 7.
Let’s take the Egg chair. It was designed 1958 and manufactured by the company Fritz Hansen (and still to this day). Its commissioning was for the reception area of Denmark’s first skyscraper, the SAS Royal Hotel, as an inviting way to greet guests. In fact, Jacobsen designed everything in the building.
The concept was in contrast to the situation for Egg found itself in. The hotel was a commercial building with sharp edges, however, the Egg has no hard lines at all. Curves which mould around the body and protect the privacy of occupants from the open and public reception area.
Hans J. Wegner
Here’s what’s impressive about Wegner, born 1914. As you can see from our previous notable Scandinavian designers, they adored sitting at their desks for months on end dreaming up chair blueprints. Pencil in one hand, coffee in the other, they were pretty good at it.
Somehow, amongst the greatest of the greats, Wegner earned himself the title of Master of the Chair. If that’s not outstanding then I don’t know what is.
Chairs were so much of a passion that he designed 500 of them, each unique.
In 1940, he teamed up with Arne Jacobsen and Erik Møller for furniture designs for the Aarhus City Hall and by 1943 has started his own design company. The first chair came in 1949, commissioned by Carl Hansen and Søn.
The Wishbone Chair (or CH24)was one his first accomplishments and was deemed a success very early on. So popular that it remains in manufacturing to this day and you can see why
Features of Scandinavian Design
Let there be light.
You’re looking sickly.
It’s time to strip everything back, let the sun burst through and spark the much Vitamin D production.
Scandinavian design emphasises as much natual light as humanly possible.
That means removing as many items on the window as possible.
Get it bouncing off the walls like small children who have had too much sugar by painting those same walls white or light gray.
It’ll look sparse to begin with and a little bit like a psychiatric ward but it’s all good.
The personality comes from furniture.
And boy, what furniture it is.
If you’ve got wooden floors, especially oak, you’ve landed on a gold mind.
They’re a dime a dozen in Scandinavian homes but you can get away with carpets if it’s all you have at the moment.
If you think that having clutter in your Scandinavian bedroom is acceptable then you need a rethink, my friend.
You need to keep this place cleaner than an operating room. If you’re messy then you need to enroll on a course in project management to make sure you put your clothes in their drawers.
There’s no doubt about it, choosing the perfect bed sheets is more complicated than you think. It’s no different with Scandinavian bedroom.
The neutral color palette in Scandinavian design means you’re able to get away with having darker bedding if you prefer.
If you choose to go with darker bedding then a dark gray is best, it’s elegant and matches everything you could possible put it with.
Other colors that go well with the style are light grays, navy blue and black.
The contrast is awesome against pale wood.
Most of the time, light colored bed sheets are favored in the style though.
They’re brilliant at creating a brighter, larger looking room. If you have a small bedroom then this is the best route to go down.
As you know, Scandi is all about the natural environment.
You can use this to your advantage and bring new colors and textures.
Tans, creams, browns are great to add as throws, pillows or as part of the headboard.
A bit of color
It’s still possible to add accents of color to your bedding.
You can get duvet covers with trims of oranges, teals, or yellows.
Alternatively, buy one or two pillows with the rest of the bedding remaining a block color.
Light fixtures in Scandinavian design are usually minimal and subtle.
Their form is organic, materials natural and silhouettes clean.
Sunlight is the primary lightsource but if you don’t have that luxury then add a large mirror to double your money. Bounce those suckers around the room some more before the escape again.
You need lights that increase the coziness of your rooms at some point or you’ll be spending the nights in darkness. Laying light in the bedroom is a great example of how to make it more relaxing.
Once the sun goes down, shadows can be equally as important as helping create the effect.
How can you generate more shadows?
It’s your trusted sidekick: the candles
You need to buy yourself more candles than you thought was possible for any one man.
Meik Wiking wrote The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living – you’d expect him to know a thing or two about the style.
He explains that roughly half of Danish People get their blow torches out and light candles at least 4 times a week.
Just under a third (31%) light them six or more each time. That’s commitment and rightly so.
Dim the overheads, we need more hygge
You need to turn those overhead lights right down. You want to create mood lighting.
To create mood lighting, light needs to be layered from different areas of the room. Overhead lighting will overpower this layering effect.
Multiple lamps positioned in various locations are perfect for producing this dynamic outcome. Some enjoy adding low-intensity colored bulbs to accent the room. This is especially valuable in the bedroom or the kitchen.
It’s recommended with all interior design styles to purchase dimmers so you’re in complete control.
Scandinavian style furniture needs to be minimal
When deciding on furniture, it needs to look great and work functionally too.
There’s no embelishment or intricate design.
The functionality must emphasize freeing up space in your home and trying to maximise it. Each room needs to be as airy and free as possible.
Every piece needs to look stylish and like it’s out of a design magazine with a focus on art.
Mid-centruy modern furniture pairs really well with Scandinavian design. They both focus on organic lines which flow to create extra space.
Another way these design styles create space is to sit the furniture on hairpin legs. Allowing the air to flow right under and ticking those feng shui boxes.
Hairpin legs work with all sorts of furniture.
You wake up. Roll over to the other side of your hairpin legged bed and grab your phone which is on your hairpin legged nightstand to check if you’ve received any drunk messages during the night.
You get out the shower and sit on your hairpin legged bench to put your socks on.
You’re dressed. You have a once over in the mirror, you’re looking sexy.
Before you leave the house to start the day, you read a few pages of your book in you hairpin legged armchair.
Life’s good but it’s time to go and make it better.
Eames chairs are the crème de la crème of any minimalist makeover.
You’ll put food in the slow cooker on a Sunday afternoon and sit in your Eames chair for hours as the smells waft through from the kitchen. Your feet on the foot stool and your mouth watering at the thought of dinner.
Next level relaxation.
You’d normally place your Eames chair in the living room but they’re also welcomed in the bedroom if you have the room to lie back and allow all of your worries to dissolve into the leather.
Scandinavian design accessories (because the devil is in the detail)
This is a given in any interior but you need to buy some house plants.
If you do have the space, you should get one large plant or tree. I really appreciate them, I think they look great.
In rooms with white walls, plants with large dark leaves will contrast superbly. I guarantee people comment on the aesthetics and say they want the same.
There are loads of indoor plants available to you and I will write an article explaning them all eventually.
Some notible species include:
- Fiddle leaf figs
- Spider plants
- Snake plants
- Devil’s ivy
Artwork is as important as foliage for any interior. The majority of art is black and white and photographs are a favorite.
They can be portraits of people or landscapes of wild parts of the world. What interests you more?
If you’d like to add color to the room through your art then make sure they’re desaturated, earthy or pastals.
One black and white photograph or painting is going to look bleak. You need to layer the images throughout the room.
- On the floor
- Different walls
Alternatively, you can create a gallery wall behind your bed and hang multiple pictures together. If you plan it correctly, it will look fantastic.
There are any number of rug options available to you in Scandinavian design.
The neutral color scheme throughout allows for a variety of styles and patterns.
- Faux sheepskin
- Persian rugs
- Traditional prints
Rugs are perfect for creating more of a cozy atmosphere and another way to do this is by adding really thickly knitted blankets to throw across your bed.
One of my friends has an awesome coffee table with a live edge.
It doesn’t have a straight edge like you normally get with tables and instead keeps its tree-like qualities.
The bending, gnarly boundary provides some wisdom to the previously pristine interior. The wood has seen a lot over the years and now it’s in your living room.
Space in Scandinavian Design
Keep it simple. If you remove everything you from the room that doesn’t have a functional purpose then you can almost reach out and grab Scandinavian design. Simple lines with organic forms.
You need to use natural materials
What are the natural materials that are used throughout Scandinavian design?
Rugs are common on the light oak floors. Add a fire that’s crackling over wooden logs to the scene and we’ve just created heaven.
This is the ultimate cosy, safe environment and will immediately allow visitors relax in your company and want to stick around for days.
You’ll see a lot of benches when you search through article after article of Scandinavian design. A lot of the time the upholstery is non-existent and it looks as though it’s been made en-route from the felling of the tree.
Six legs are attached and it’s good to go.
Mirrors are used a lot in the style as a way of emphasising even more light throughout the room. Natural ornaments, such as pottery are on display as well as candles and flowers.