The enduring appeal of Scandinavian design
From hygge to lagom, fika to umage, it seems there’s not a year goes by without a new Scandinavian lifestyle trend hitting our high streets or filling the feeds of lifestyle bloggers the web over.
But like most trends, they soon pass and make way for the next big thing. There’s one particular aspect of Scandinavian culture, however, that continues to endure. And that’s our passion for Scandinavian furniture design.
Ikea has undoubtedly helped keep Scandinavia at the forefront of our imaginations when it comes to furnishing our homes. But Scandinavian design existed a long time before Ingvar Kamprad’s all-conquering blue and yellow empire entered our living rooms and dining rooms and bedrooms and kitchens and bathrooms and …
Above: Paimio chair by Finland’s Alvar Aalto.
FROM SURVIVAL METHOD TO DESIGN SENSATION
Everything we now associate with Scandinavian design – functionality, clean and simple lines, the illusion of space – was born out of necessity.
In response to the long, dark winters and harsh living conditions of the time, people wanted cosy, bright and practical living environments. So, designers used whatever natural materials they had available to create furniture that made life as easy and comfortable as possible, while maximizing light and space.
Then, in 1947, the future of Scandinavian design took an unexpected turn. The same design methods people had been using to survive life in the frozen North, became an international sensation at the popular Triennale di Milano design exhibition held in the considerably warmer climes of Milan. Scandinavian design was set to take the world by storm.
From 1954 to 1957, a travelling design show entitled ‘Scandinavian design’ made its way around the USA and Canada. The show, quite literally, brought Scandinavian design to the masses and highlighted the movement’s democratic belief that elegant, functional design should be accessible to everyone – not just a privileged few.
As the Scandinavian design movement grew in popularity and influence, noted designers such as Denmark’s Arne Jacobsen and Hans J. Wegner, Sweden’s Arne Norell and Finland’s Alvar Aalto all created ground-breaking pieces that stood head and shoulders above anything else being produced at the time. The sheer quality of their work and the purity of their design vision was evident in countless pieces that are still sought after and copied more than 70 years later.
Above: Sirocco Safari chair by Sweden’s Arne Norell.
A NEW SEARCH FOR SPACE
Today, we once again find ourselves searching for new ways to make our lives simpler. Our homes have become sanctuaries from a busy, ever-changing world, but we no longer want them to just house us. We want them to say who we are and what we want out of life.
We want quality over quantity; we want things that last, not that need endlessly replacing; we want order, not clutter. But most of all we all want somewhere bright, stylish and spacious to live that makes us feel good.
With all this in mind, is it any wonder that Scandinavian design is more popular than ever?
No matter how much the world changes or our tastes evolve, something about its simple elegance and timeless beauty still resonates with us.
Of course, if you really want to experience classic Scandinavian design, all you have to do is step outside and step into your Volvo.
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