Scandinavian interior design: focusing on the essence
Catherine Lazure-Guinard, who launched the blog Nordic Design, believes that one cliché to dispel the notion that IKEA is the sole representative for Scandinavian design. “A lot of people (perhaps too many) still believe that Scandinavian design equals IKEA.” The Swedish giant should, of course, be acknowledged for its huge contribution to popularizing this movement and making it accessible to everyone. But many items in its product offer are largely inspired by (and often copied directly from) the work of Scandinavian designers. One piece that comes to mind is Alvar Aalto’s Stool 60, produced by Artek, which IKEA renamed Frosta and began to replicate decades ago
Keep in mind, that minimalism is not the “science of empty spaces.” As designer Nicholas Burroughs puts it, “Minimalism is not a lack of something. It’s simply the perfect amount of something.” If Scandinavian design means doing a lot with very little, the primary reason for this is practicality to avoid wasting resources, to draw on the full potential of the materials used and to optimize space, Generally, Scandinavians’ homes are modest and economical – they put more energy and financial resources into their public spaces.
Another important factor is maximization of all resources – both material and intangible – that help improve lives. One of the most eloquent examples is, undoubtedly, the role of light in Scandinavian architecture. Skylights, window arrangements, slits and other controlled “light spills” speak to the unique limited light conditions in the Scandanavian regions- where the long nights are a reminder of how precious light is and the long summer days are a time to celebrate it.
Although the designs produced in all Scandinavian countries should not be lumped together (e.g.Icelandic creationsare chock-full of colour and feature a lot of free experimentation), there are some common traits. Catherine Lazure -Guinard sees commonalities shared by all Nordic countries, including Canada: patterns inspired by nature, and the use of wood (form-pressed), aluminum and pressed metal – raw materials that evoke an occassionalrapport with the marked contrast in seasons and the harsh winters.
The enduring popularity of Scandinavian design and architecture, and their impact that extends beyond the world of décor are explained by their underlying principles – quite simply, the principles of good design.
“Quality and durability are two key tenets of the Scandinavian design philosophy,” asserts Catherine Lazure-Guinard. Catherine continues, “Mass production and down-market products are therefore out of sync with the ‘Buy less, but better quality’ movement that prevails in the Nordic countries.” One way to reinvent oneself on the basis of one’s heritage is the approach taken by Norm Architects, a firm headed up by two Danish designers: Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen and Kasper Rønn.
“This creative pair share a desire to celebrate Danish culture and heritage. Their work reflects their love of detail, clean lines and simple shapes, quality materials and a timeless aesthetic,” explains Catherine. “And they are the key figures of the New Nordic movement.”
Scandinavian design is timeless, and inspires through its simplicity – of both materials and forms – while demonstrating that quality must always outlast quantity.
Designers to watch: Andreas Engesvik (Norway), Per Söderberg (Sweden) and his No Early Birds collection, and Christina Liljenberg Halstrøm
* Photo credit: Per Söderberg on Lauritzblog International