What is Scandinavian Design?
Our guide to Scandinvian Design and tips from top Scandi and Nordic designers as to how you can achieve it.
What is Scandinavian Design and How Can I Achieve It?
Welcome to ÅBEN - With 10 of the top Scandinavian designers coming out of the best design schools across Norway, Sweden and Denmark, we thought we were pretty well placed to give you the complete guide to Scandinavian design and its principles to help you in your quest to achieve that Hygge feel.
Let’s Start Simple
Scandinavia comprises Sweden, Norway and Denmark. Add Iceland and Finland and we’re now in the realm of Nordic Design. So what’s the difference? Well we’ll let you into a little secret…not much. At Aben, our designers span all five countries but remain unified by the same design principles, and it’s these principles that you’ll want to consider if achieving this now sort after aesthetic is your aim.
The Birth of Scandinavian Design
Now if you’re interested in the effect two World Wars and the resultant socio-economic changes had on the art and design world, there’s a great blog by The Spruce. To bring you towards the end of the Second World War and the 1940s. Europe was seeing a shift in focus towards interior design. Instead of your home being a representation of your wealth and the notion that bigger is better or that good taste was essentially to the provenance of those that could afford it, design at this time was being flipped on its head and beauty was becoming more affordable.
It was such beauty that formed the final piece to Scandinavian Design principles, sitting alongside functionality and simplicity. The latter had been around for years. Harsh winters meant that functionality had long outweighed the need for decoration and over indulgence.
How it came to prominence
Scandinavian design came to prominence across Europe in the 1950s as an alternative to Nazi-era design fascism. Homes both big and small started to become less cluttered and cozy, emphasising the Danish hygge feel - natural, minimal, intimate, and focused on the home and family.
Notably in this period, was the inception of the Lunning Prize, otherwise known as the Nobel Prize of Scandinavian design. This took Scandinavian design and placed it on the world map, and although its popularity declined between the 60s and the 80s, new global trends towards more sustainable living has placed it front of mind ever since.
So, how can you achieve this aesthetic in your home?
First up, let’s take a look about achieving the look you want with your interior designs:
- Neutral colours
Generally whites and light greys are the most common colours associated with scandi interiors. Darker greys, blacks and browns can act great as feature walls and currently you’ll see a few pops of colour with pale pinks and greens added for an accent here and there.
- Light Flooring
When it comes to flooring, it's almost never seen and the key is not to draw attention to it. Traditionally flooring is usually hard wood left in its natural state or painted white to encourage a lighter feel.
- Simple Decorative Accents
Scandinavian accents, above all else are simple. Think cushions with a splash of colour, carpets with a geometric design and vases and pots like this silo vase from our designer Alexandra Nilasdotter
- Warm Textiles
Given the harsh and cold nordic environment, warmth and a homely feel can be achieved by softer furnishings and decoration. Sheepskin rugs, woolen blankets and cotton materials can help you achieve exactly this with an added texture too.
- Natural Finishes
Scandinavian design has a huge focus on sustainability, and we value this above all here at Aben. We’ll focus more on this when giving our pointers on your furniture. But when it comes to shelving like these by Aben designer Samuli Helavuo or coffee tables like this, you can see the focus is on natural material.
Finally, let’s look at your interior furnishing and three golden rules:
- Wood and Metal Finishes
Just like your interior finishes, your furnishing should have a focus on natural and sustainable material. Wood and metal is the most common way to achieve this. Aben designer Antrei Hartikainen famed for his use of wood, and winner of Design Forum Finland’s Young Designer of the Year, states natural material to be fundamental in his work and so should it for your furniture considerations!
- Clutter Free
Okay, so everyone knows what clutter free means. When it comes to choosing your furnishings and achieving that Scandinavian finish, anything that isn’t necessary should be thought about twice. Our top tip here is to seriously plan the use of your space before choosing furnishings - so hard to do with all the temptation being to dive right in, but key to achieving the final aesthetic.
- Form and Function
So we talk about form and function to specific room design in our pieces about Bedroom and Living Room design tips (ad links once up). At a high level, keep in mind clean lines when it comes to larger, harder furniture pieces such as table chairs and sofas. A smooth rounded edge is common too. On the contrary, balancing these harder materials with softer pillows and blankets, thoughtfully placed as well as storage and shelving that optimise the space all add to the equation and will help you achieve the look you’re after.