This guest post is by Sainsbury’s Finance.
Scandinavian design never really goes out of fashion, but it’s enjoying a moment in the spotlight again. The popularity of TV shows such as The Killing and Borgen have put Danish design centre-stage in particular, celebrating everything from mid-century lamps to hand-knitted jumpers.
The long, dark winters of northern Europe call for light, airy interiors, typically painted in pale background shades but with splashes of bright, primary colour to lift the spirits. Clever lighting of a room, from carefully-positioned lamps, candles and ceiling- or wall-mounted fixtures, is key to beating the gloom and creating a cosy, homely space.
Scandinavian style is typically quite minimal, with simple silhouettes and clean outlines, and there’s a heavy emphasis on natural wood surfaces, textures and fibres. Household products, textiles and ornaments often draw upon folk imagery, local heritage and regional traditions – few Swedish homes (and especially those of expatriates) are without a Dala horse, for example, a small hand-painted and carved wooden toy said to symbolize Swedish identity.
The Danish have a word, “hygge”, which sums up domestic well-being, cosiness, comfort, tranquility and simplicity, and this concept informs much of Nordic interior design. Snuggle into those sheepskin slippers and wrap a woollen blanket around your shoulders, and check out some Scandinavian home-style ideas (we’ll add Finland into the equation here though strictly speaking, it’s not part of Scandinavia, as much of its design shares similar values).
Glass-making and ceramics companies such as Orrefors, Arabia, Iittala and Holmegaard continue to produce covetable items which are both beautiful and functional, while vintage items from these brands are highly sought-after, often fetching high prices on eBay or at antiques fairs. Either way, their products can be viewed as long-term investments – as long as you’re careful when doing the washing up.
Finnish textiles company Marimekko now has its own stores in London, and retailers such as Skandium specialise in sourcing the most desirable Scandinavian products; there’s also no shortage of online outlets, and most towns or cities of any size will have a vintage store stocking Arne Jacobsen chairs – or at least, Jacobsen-style chairs.
Of course, you can get the look without spending a fortune. Many mainstream High Street homeware retailers have Scandinavian-inspired ranges and reproduction pieces – and don’t forget IKEA, which has some very passable imitations of classic designs as well as the latest Nordic trends, at budget prices.
Trends for 2012
According to the Guardian, graphic and geometric prints are good bets again this year, along with sustainable-source, recycled or restored materials, and mid-century modern is another strong theme, all of which reflect characteristic Scandinavian design cues. Colourwise, shades of grey and monochrome, enlivened by acid yellow, grass green or bright reds and oranges give a retro feel.
When investing in some new furniture, a fresh coat of paint or new items such as curtains, lamps or eye-catching ornaments, using a credit card may help to spread the cost – especially if you have a 0% credit card which offers an interest free period. Just remember you’ll be charged interest as soon as this period ends if you don’t clear your balance.
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