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Charms Of Scandinavian Style

Curvy Forms

It is said that Nature abhors a straight line. And in Scandinavia, with is vast countryside. Nature is very much the driving force behind the organic shapes favored by its designers. This, coupled with the need for comforting forms especially welcome when returning home during long, cold winters has led to furniture designed to hug and envelop people.

It has also resulted in an emphasis on ergonomic or people-centred shapes and items. Lego of Denmark, for example, is known for its Duplo range of larger, easier-to-grip bricks designed for the small hands of little children. Yet these bricks can still be used together with regular-sized ones for older children, creating a toy that grows with the child instead of the child outgrowing the toy.

Seasonal Colors

Pale, muted colors like cream (pure white is regarded as too stark), pale grey or yellow are a favorite choice as they reflect the maximum amount of light during gloomy winter days. Another popular palette is fresh colors like sky blue, apple green and rose pink as these are associated with spring, which marks the end of winter.

Rich warm colors such as orange and red are also commonly used to warm up interiors visually in such cold climes. Nautical shades of blue, sand and white, another popular choice, are often picked as a reminder of beach homes and summer holidays.

Stack And Pack

By the turn of the previous century, industrialisation and rural-urban migration had resulted in overcrowded cities, and Scandinavian ones were no exception. Social reforms to deal with the problem, when paired with progressive ideas by young architects and designers of the time, resulted in compact, multi-purpose furniture.

This, in turn, saved space and created more room in homes. The result was affordably priced tables that could be converted into sofas, sofas into beds, stools that could be used as sidetables and stackable chairs-something we take for granted today, but which were revolutionary ideas at the time.

Clean Lines

The social and design consciousness of the early 20th century towards better, cleaner, healthier living was bolstered by the streamlined, form-follows-function aesthetics of the Bauhaus (1979-33) and the Modern movements (1920s). But instead of the concrete and steel favored by Modernist pioneers Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe.

Scandinavian architects reinterpreted their designs using the primary building materials of their homeland -birch, pine and larch. This now-familiar image of streamlined shapes framed in natural wood has become synonymous with Scandinavian style today.

Casual Looks

A result of the move away from the formal, stuffy style of the late 19th and early 20th century. It also had its roots in the work of Swedish artist Carl Larsson and his designer wife, Karin. In 1897, he published Ett Hem (A Home), a volume of paintings of his rural home showing airy, sun-filled interiors that were a marked contrast to the dark, Victorian-style interiors of the time.

The book sold tens of thousands of copies in Scandinavia and northern Europe, inspiring similar looks in millions of homes. The current look is also influenced by the casual, low maintenance interiors of beach/summer homes that are very much a part of the Scandinavian way of life.

Organic Patterns

Organic shapes derived from Nature are a big part of Scandinavian design consciousness Finnish architect Alvar Aalto's famous 1930s Savoy vase is said to have been inspired by the outlines of his country's numerous lakes. With 187,000 of them, Finland is also the largest lake region in Europe.

Floral and interlocking geometric patterns are also recurring motifs in Scandinavian design. The tradition is so established that the Norwegians have a word for it: rosemaling (rose painting).

Natural Materials

Wood is a favorite construction material. It is plentiful and contributes to the local economy as timber is a major industry in Norway, Sweden and Finland.Because of the climate. many of the trees have thin branches. This results in timber with small knots and a smooth grain-a characteristic of Scandinavian woods.

There's also a practical reason for Scandinavian designers preference for wood. Despite the strong influence of Modernism in their works, the chrome and steel structures that Le Corbusier and van der Robe liked so much were simply impractical, being too cold for a region known for its sub-zero temperatures. Wood, on the other hand, was warmer on the touch.

Traditional Crafts

The advent of industrialisation at the turn of the previous century led to a concern with preserving rural and traditional skills. This resulted in the creation of many associations and societies to called and pass on these crafts. Till this day. designers still draw much of their inspiration from the region's vast rural expanses and arts. The strong traditions in carpentry weaving, glass blowing and metalwork, among other skills, have given rise to many products and brands that have since become famous names.

Carpentry and furniture: Alvar Aalto, Artek, Eero Saarinen and Eero Aarnio (Finland), Ikea (Sweden) and Verner Patron, Fritz Hansen, Finn Juhl and Hans Wegner (Denmark). Textiles: Marimekko (Finland), Dale (Norway). Glassware: iiftala (Finland), Orrefors (Sweden). Silversmithing and tableware: Georg Jensen and Bodum (Denmark), Royal Pewter (Norway).

 

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