This guide features 7 of the best Scandinavian interior design techniques, explained and exemplified in one easy go so as to be used in any home.
Scandinavian design includes an entire array of elements which can be used, changed, brought into center focus and so on. The popularity of this form of design rose in the late 1950s in North America because of the work of a series of artists that gained worldwide renown.
The thinking which represents the foundation of the Nordic interior design school, which appealed to Americans in particular, was that beauty should not be accessible only to the rich. As such, the Scandinavian design came to be known as a “democratic design”. Using affordable materials that prioritized functionality, while at the same time retaining beauty, the Nordic designers attracted the attention of people everywhere.
1. Minimalist furniture
When one thinks of interior design, the first obvious place to look is the furniture. The Nordic interior design school uses a technique regarding furniture that is defined by simple lines and functionality. Abandoning merely aesthetic features and additions, the chairs, closets, tables and beds reunited in the Scandinavian tradition of design attain together a beauty in simplicity.
Without over-complication or the visual clogging of the room with numerous features that would in the end bother the eye and limit space, the Nordic approach to furniture creates the impression of more space. Perfect lines, narrow edges and a furniture alignment that integrates all pieces are distinct features of this style of interior design.
One example of the motors of the popularity of the Nordic interior design – aside from IKEA – was Skandium. Founded in 1999 in Britain by three Scandinavians and specialized in Nordic design and furniture, the company saw a steady growth. Its knowledge and wide offer of Scandinavian interior elements expanded the demand on the British market for the Nordic design and worked to promote the thinking behind it.
2. Use of Light
The importance of light to the Nordic interior design school is at the basis of its origin. Simply put, the Scandinavian winters were long and lacking in daylight, imbuing the people with a need for more space and light.
Natural light is thus extremely valued, prompting the use of very large windows in homes of Nordic design. Dressed in white themselves, the windows allow the entrance of as much light as possible, enhancing the focus on the white-colored furniture.
Aside from natural light, table and floor lamps are extensively used by the Nordic interior designers. With simplistic fixtures that subtly integrate into the furniture, the rooms are filled with light at every hour of the day. This occurs with the aid of the light colors that define the Scandinavian style.
3. Cold Colors
Coupled with the many attributions of light, the colors used by the Nordic interior designers make up another technique on their own. As such, we observe monochromatic apartments in which white dominates all rooms, creating an aesthetic of sterility, even suggesting futurism.
The colors that do find their way in an environment of Nordic design are cold and dark. Grey is the most common option, but dashes of dark blue, brown or yellow can also be added. For example, the walls of an apartment of Nordic design can be either white or grey, with a gleaming white couch, dark blue rugs and throw pillows.
Aside from furniture, even artwork is integrated into the color climate of the room. Simplistic black and white or grey lines and posters can be fitted onto the grey walls of any home of Nordic design. They improve the appearance of the walls without clogging them or disturbing the color palette.
Easy on the eye and calming, the color techniques used by Scandinavian interior designers are a continuation of their frame of thought. If opulence is vivid and colorful, employing the entire range of colors, their idea of beauty is simpler and more accessible even color-wise.
In terms of color, perhaps no others can match the focus that the Danish company Muuto places on it. Embodying the “New Nordic” style, the company largely abandons the monochromatic approach for warmer colors, reaching a young and vibrant design. Muuto’s designers go as far as locating a room’s focal point through the usage of color alone. While the walls may remain dark and cold, the couch will be a warmer yellow.
4. Linear Space
Instead of requiring large rooms, the Nordic interior design school creates space through a series of features. One is the high ceiling, which can be coupled with wide doors and windows. Together, these construct the illusion of tall rooms and fit extremely well with the monochromatic approach.
Alongside tall ceilings and doors, the Nordic school also prefers working with a series of smaller rooms placed in a line rather than with a few big rooms. As studies show, this preference for more spaces that one must pass through may in fact alleviate residential crowding and distress by reducing social withdrawal.
As originating in an environment defined by cold temperature, the Nordic interior design school perfectly fits the addition of a fireplace. Going together well with the bright colors and the abundance of space, a fireplace can add beauty and comfort to an apartment while at the same time retaining its function.
If traditionally one can find the fire at the center of the room, the Nordic designers had another idea for the ideal fireplace insert, positioning it in a corner of the room and hiding it under a simple column. By doing this, the room is spared a dominating element and the assortment of the furniture is left undisturbed.
The warmth of a fire can thus be enjoyed safely from a corner of the room, spreading its natural light well across the entirety of the space. Lacking the oversized armchairs that would typically be seen in front of the fire, the Nordic interior design prefers the advantages of more room.
6. Contrast of texture
The preference for certain textures is immediately obvious to the eye when it comes to Scandinavian interior design. Unfinished wood pieces, fur rugs and soft linens come into contrast with marble, copper and metal. Oddly enough, this mix of textures, along with the color white, ends up creating an overall aseptic, modern look.
Wooden chairs and tables are the typical keynote pieces of a Nordic kitchen, but wood may also safely be used in all rooms except the bathroom, where marble is king. Natural materials in their entirety are the prime composing elements of an apartment that follow this school of interior design.
Menu, another Danish furniture company with tradition, specialized itself in the use of textures, commonly combining materials such as marble, steel and wood. Moreover, a major upside of the mixture of textures and elements in an environment of Nordic design is that it leaves a lot of options for DIY pieces.
7. Usage of Glass
Unlike other schools of design, the Nordic one gives a special role to glass within its framework. A natural material that reflects light, it seems like an obvious choice for an environment that seeks to propagate light.
Overshadowed by other aspects of design, the Nordic usage of glass was embodied in the work of artists and designers such as Finland’s Tapio Wirkkala and Oiva Toikka. While the glassware of the first led to the creation of the iittala design brand, the second was to become famous for his more than 400 unique and collectible iittala Birds.
With an established tradition and unique techniques of interior design, the Nordic school has offered beauty through simplicity to the world. Its mission is not yet complete and its offerings are not yet exhausted, as the popularity of its style continues to rise year by year.
In a world clogged by more and more elements that lack in either beauty or function, the Nordic interior design style represents a breath of fresh air and a beam of purifying light. By using only natural materials and a minimalist approach to every room, it has managed to create a modern look that is both esthetically pleasing and functional.
Together, the simplistic furniture, the importance of light, cold colors, wide and linear space, fireplace, contrasting textures and finally its usage of glass, the Nordic interior design techniques represent the act of creating beauty in design in its purest form.
Article written by Alex Moore.
Decorator and Seamster. @AlexMoore01