The History of Scandinavian Design
Thursday, 23 May 2019 13:16:46 Europe/London
Scandinavian design (and furniture) has enjoyed worldwide popularity since its inception and today, nearly 100 years later, it is just as popular as it’s ever been, if not more so. Furniture featuring elements of Scandinavian design are some of the most sought after pieces of furniture the world over.
Scandinavian design first appeared in the 1930s when designers like Hans J. Wegner, Arne Jacobsen, Alvar Aalto and Poul Henningsen, among others, triggered the golden era of Scandinavian design with their simple and clean composition of furniture (with an emphasis on chairs), lamps and textiles. These new designs were meant to emphasize the practicality of everyday use, a simple home atmosphere and an unencumbered lifestyle. The movement flourished during the 1950s in the five Nordic countries that include Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Iceland.
From 1951 to 1970 the Lunning Prize was awarded to significant Scandinavian designers. The award was very much responsible for identifying the profile of Scandinavian design, while also making it an identifiable product. In the UK, it’s popularity swept into the country in the 1950s when the design movement first began appearing in the island nation. The British love affair kicked off in 1951 when the Festival of Britain featured an exhibition on a Scandinavian design that was very well received by the general populace. These designs appealed to the British affinity for Northern Europe while being avant-garde at the same time. Its popularity was further enhanced in 1954 when the Brooklyn Museum staged its ‘Design in Scandinavian’ exhibit, cementing its popularity in America.
The Scandinavian design represents a design movement identified by minimalism, simplicity and functionality. Clean lines, uncluttered curves and integration with the home/environment are all hallmarks of Scandinavian design.
Although Scandinavian design for the home has often been focused on minimalism, it isn’t just minimalism for its own sake. It’s meant to cultivate an ideal balance in the space between usability/functionality and refined beauty. In a nutshell, Scandinavian design identifies itself by finding harmony amid the extraordinary and the calming, allowing for the use of both soothing and vibrant colours.
Scandinavian design is very often unabashedly rational, so it should come as no surprise that the Nordic countries have developed the most celebrated ideas in this field. Their focus on healthy living helps create their most popular seating designs, which are starting to be seen in modern office seating, including the more recent active sitting, sit/stand desks and workstations.
While these designs have enjoyed their massive success because they are in demand from millions of regular people seeking furniture that’s functional, yet beautiful, they are also considered iconic from an aesthetic viewpoint. The foundations of Scandinavian design allow ordinary people to purchase and envelop art as something that is functional, rather than just beautiful luxury. While Scandinavian design is mostly associated with furniture, it has also been utilized in consumer electronics, mobile phones and even cars.
Scandinavian design in the home is often featured in the living room, bedroom, dining room and hallways. In living rooms it stands out for its use of balance in combining clean lines and usability with comforting textures and warmth. Bringing outside nature inside is also a hallmark of Scandinavian design. Think modern and simple couches, coffee tables and chairs, as well as furniture highlighting the smooth lines of the wood it is constructed from and using ladders as shelving. Lighting is also a feature of Scandinavian design and it is used to capture the essence of being both modern and cozy.
In the dining room, think elegant and minimal. White walls with bright accent colours showcase clean and simple tables that can be combined with smooth utilitarian chairs or more modern moulded plastic chairs. A sideboard with clean lines will look right at home and can be used as a place to store dishes and cutlery.
In hallways, attractive shelving in the design of a ladder is quite popular as is staggered shelving on a clean and uncluttered entranceway wall. Additionally, end tables and wardrobes featuring smooth curves with clean and functional shelving provide usability combined with gorgeous aesthetics.
Scandinavian design has taken its deserved place in the modern design world’s landscape by focusing on simple beauty and functionality. Current independent designers like Simon Legald, Gry Fager and many others have kept Scandinavian furniture current with their passionately designed quality pieces. A mixture of aesthetics, minimalism and functionality, rather than flat-packed utility, signifies the Scandinavian design movement and has helped maintain its popularity in the modern world for nearly a century. With less chaos and more functionality, the Scandinavian design offers a way to let nature in with light, wood and more space. Families or homemakers can make use of simple comfort and modern aesthetically pleasing beauty to create a modern and stunning décor.