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What is Scandinavian minimalism?

Natalia Kolomiets

Published on March 15 2020

NordicStory Solid wood oak furniture

For many people, when asked to visualize a Nordic house designed in the traditional Scandinavian style, a calm image emerges.

Perhaps what they envision is a log cabin on the edge of a fjord, containing some beautifully designed Scandinavian furniture pieces.

It refers to a minimalist place in the sense that each piece would be included for a reason, but also to create a comfortable space. Cozy. Hygge With an innate sense of warmth, but avoiding clutter. That's Scandinavian minimalism.

While Scandinavian design still features the clean lines, calm and clarity epitomized by traditional American minimalism of the 1960s, this one has a softer approach. That's why it's Scandinavian minimalism, not American or Japanese.

 In the example of color, the monochromatic schemes strictly adhered to by Japanese minimalists have been added to the Nordic home. Subtle pastel tones are key. Blues, creams and grays help bring in hygge, soften edges and invite visitors to feel comfortable, not just admire.

 That's because the traditional Nordic house is a product of its environment. Scandinavian design is inspired by functionality, the result of the harsh northern European climate. The temperatures and rugged terrain have made quality and durability key aspects of Scandinavian minimalist style, but without sacrificing comfort.

Minimalism comes from necessity, not aesthetics. It has substance. Scandinavian design offers efficiency, which creates beauty in its simplicity.


 Minimalism for the masses?

 The introduction of a major Scandinavian furniture brand in cities around the world meant that many thought they had direct access to a Nordic home.

However, there is no such thing as easy minimalism. There is no way to achieve the characteristic scandi style through flatpack alone.

Scandinavian minimalism is all about buying quality, buying little and getting each object to create impact.buying little and making each object create an impact. That's not to say you can't find quality in mass market stores, quite the contrary, but a true Nordic home isn't about choosing between shelves and shelves of the same item in different colors. It's about spending time and effort to find the perfect piece for you and your home. To commoditize this is ideologically opposed to the principles many are trying to emulate.


No clutter

Nothing should clutter the space in the Nordic home. It's about letting objects do the talking by placing them on clean, high-quality surfaces with no frills. Built to last, to be appreciated and durable.

Light is also essential. Huge windows and a bright palette allow the Nordic home to make the most of the warm summer days and try to attract and maintain as much light as possible before the long polar nights.

Scandinavian minimalism is about simplicity, purity and calm. About buying less and buying better. Letting objects speak while remaining functional and comfortable.

Sounds simple enough. But if you don't have it in your blood, this may be impossible for some to copy.

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