Scandinavian Design

Scandinavian design is loved all around the world, and for good reason. From its functionality to its timelessness: here’s a look into what Scandinavian design stands for, what it looks like and how to incorporate it into your home, and most importantly: why we all love it so much.

Inspiration

22 April 2020
Alvar Aalto vase by Iittala, also known as the Savoy vase is a true classic.

What is Scandinavian Design?

Scandinavian design is a style-movement thats best described as clean, simple and functional. Since its break-through in the 1930’s, Scandinavian design has become one of the most popular styles around the world.

Scandinavian design philosophy is based on functionality, simplicity and designs that last. Many designs of the early 1950’s are still in production today and have become true Scandinavian design classics.

In a world in which our lives seem to become more and more hectic, we long for a home that provides a calm living space that seamlessly combines aesthetics and functionality. Scandinavian design encapsulates just that.

Mon Amie porcelain by Rörstrand is a true Scandinavian design classic.
 

What does Scandinavian Design look like?

The Scandinavian design look is:

  • Clean
  • Simple
  • Functional
  • Free from clutter

What is the Scandinavian Design philosophy based on?

  • Functionality
  • Simplicity
  • Timelessness

Modern trends are woven into Scandinavian design, but the pillar philosophies have remained the same since the early 1950’s.

Do white walls, minimalistic homes and a famous furniture house with a yellow and blue logo come to mind? Well, that’s certainly part of it, but not nearly close to everything the Scandinavian design look stands for.

Form chairs by House Doctor and white wine glasses by Iittala

Functionality

One of the biggest cornerstones of Scandinavian design is the notion of functionality. Furniture and home accessories are not just seen from an aesthetic perspective but are also made to be used and serve a purpose in the home.

Unda collection from Design House Stockholm
Carrie lamp from Menu and Rita rug concrete from Brita

Timelessness

Trends come and go – but somehow, Scandinavian design manages to stay relevant year after year. How is that possible? Well, Scandinavian designs are made with the thought in mind that they are made to last and to be handed down from generation to generation. The timeless design philosophies that shaped them are relevant year after year, allowing the designs to find a place in all walks of life.

Essence white wine glasses from Iittala, Ernst glass vase, Karlevi drinking glass from Scandi Living,

Simplicity

Minimalism and simplifying your life have become more and more relevant the busier and fuller our lives get. However, Scandinavian designers have seemed to have understood this from the very beginning. Scandinavian design lives the cliché of less is more and that fewer, but qualitative, well-designed pieces can be everything you need.

Paradis lowkey bowls from Paradis Verkstaden
urna vase from Marimekko

Top 10 Scandinavian design classics

Are you looking for the true, stand-alone classics? These are the Scandinavian design classics you simply have to know:

String Pocket shelf

The first String shelf was designed by Nisse Strinning in 1949 and was taken into production shortly after. The Pocket version was launched in 2005 and is found in homes all around the world.

String shelf pocket is a true scandinavian design classic.
String Pocket blush
String shelf pocket ash-white

Kay Bojesen monkey

Designed by Kay Bojesen, the iconic wooden monkey has become synonymous with Scandinavian design. The design was born in 1951 and is still just as popular today.

The Kay Bojesen wooden monkeys are true scandinavian design classics
Kay Bojesen wooden monekys

Artichoke lamp from Louis Poulsen

The PH Artichoke lamp from Louis Poulsen is an international design classic. Designed by Poul Henningsen in 1958, the lamp is just as relevant in public spaces as it is in private homes to this day.

PH Artichoke pendant lamp from Louis Poulsen
 

STOFF candle holder

Timeless and elegant. The Stoff candle holder was originally designed by Werner Stoff and Hans Nagel in 1960. A modern interpretation by the design studio Just Right has now made a comeback and its way into modern Scandi homes all around the globe.

Collar vase from Cooee Design and STOFF Nagel candle holder

Focus de Luxe Cutlery from Gense

The Focus De Luxe cutlery was designed in the 1950's and is still in production today. The unique design of the cutlery is one that definitely stands out. The cutlery was even celebrated as one of the 100 best design classics of modern time by the New York Times.
Focus de Luxe cutlery from Gense
Focus de luxe cutlery from Gense

Alvar Aalto vase from Iittala

The Alvar Aalto vase, also known as the “Savoy” vase, was designed in 1936. The iconic design by Alvar Aalto is just as popular today as it was when it was first introduced.

Aalto duo vase

The Kartio Collection from Iittala

Simplicity meets functionality. The Kartio collection was designed by Kaj Franck and combines two of the basic pillars in Scandinavian design philosophy: Functionality and simplicity. The iconic glass collection was first designs in 1958 but is still just as popular today.

Kartio glasses and carafe from Iittala

Unikko fabric from Marimekko

Colourful and bold isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when thinking Scandinavian design. The Unikko fabric, however, is the exception to the rule. This bright, iconic flower pattern designed by Maija Isola was designed in 1964 and is still in production today. The pattern is found on everything from fabrics to porcelain and bed linen.

Unikko collection from Marimekko/ red-white

FlowerPot VP3 lamp from &tradition

The FlowerPot VP3 was designed in 1968 by Verner Panton and has made a massive comeback in recent years. The simple, yet striking design is unmistakable and a beautiful accent piece to any room.

FlowerPot VP3 table lamp from &Tradition
Dots collection from Scandi Living and Kivi candle holders from Iittala
Kivi candle holder from Iittala

10. Kivi candle holder

Small and simple; but a real classic. The Kivi candle holder was designed by Heikki Orvola and is found in homes all over Scandinavia. The simple design can be combined with close to any style and is available in a whole range of shades.