From Mies van der Rohe to da Vinci, countless artists and designers have asserted the importance of simplicity in design. But perhaps none have embraced the ethos more wholeheartedly than northern Europeans, the master arbiters of Scandinavian style.
Whether it’s a new Scandi-inspired shop or café opening, or an influx on your Instagram feed, the Scandinavian aesthetic has entered the mainstream. Fitting, since accessibility is one of the five key principles of Scandinavian design (to discover the others, check out this post).
Sometimes referred to as “democratic design,” Scandinavian design has always maintained that beautiful, functional products and spaces shouldn’t be reserved for the wealthy, but should be accessible and affordable to everyone. We agree. And if you love the clean lines and light colours that characterize Scandi style, here’s how to achieve it, without having to relocate north of the 55th parallel.
1. 50 Shades of Grey
An authentic Scandinavian interiors palette usually contains no more than four colours and they’re generally a combination of white, ivory, and grey. Why? Because lighter colours help capture and reflect natural light, a scarce commodity in northern countries. Plus the palette blends well with natural wood, another trademark in Scandinavian design.
2. Clean Lines Rule
Geometric lines and shapes are a recurring theme in Scandinavian interiors. That can take the form of a sleek kitchen, with smooth clean lines, or it can mean a pop of geometric print on a pillow or two. The important thing is finding balance, so that spaces feel calm and welcoming, and furniture is beautiful and functional, but never ornate.
3. Form Follows Function
Speaking of function, the Scandinavians are masters of multi-functional design. With land in limited supply (Canada has four times the land mass of Denmark and 23 times that of Norway), Scandinavian housing prices can be quite high, leading to naturally smaller spaces. That means that every item has to do double (or even triple) duty to earn its place. It’s smarter living, by design.
4. Less Is More
Scandinavian style is less about what you add and more about what you subtract. While the style is sometimes associated with minimalism, in reality, it’s more about a focus on quality over quantity. Simplicity and lack of visual clutter create spaces where every item serves a purpose in the overall design.
5. Let There Be Light
The Scandinavians know the value of light… and of a well-placed accessory. Whether it’s a cool fixture overhead, or functional table and floor lamps, lighting elements that improve visibility and add warmth make a big difference in countries where it’s dark for a big part of the year.
6. Take a Cue From Nature
The Scandinavian love of nature is well documented. In design, that translates to the use of natural materials like quartz, stone and plenty of wood. The latter is allowed to shine, often with the grain on full display – an appreciation of its natural beauty.
Whether you bring a little Scandi into your space using the tips above, or opt for a more immersive experience, one thing is certain – the concept of beautiful things that make our life better and more comfortable has global appeal.
Lead Photo Courtesy of @ddbdesigndevelopment