Photo of Scandinavian style living room with light and neutral colors - Infusion Home Interiors. Photo of Scandinavian style living room with light and neutral colors - Infusion Home Interiors.

What is Nordic Design?

This design style introduced the world to a new way of living almost a century ago.

Nordic design is based on lifestyle

The core of Nordic design has a profound regard for longevity, simplicity, and functionality. Simply saying the phrase conjures up images of light, airy spaces with white walls, neutral-colored furniture, and simple decor. Uncluttered nooks are finished off with natural materials like wood, allowing homeowners to emphasize real simplicity with a hint of rustic charm.

The goal of Nordic design is environmental harmony. Its ethos is directly related to the region's climate and natural resources. Homemakers make the most of the available space to reflect as much light as possible over the lengthy winter months to combat the chilly nights. Families spend a lot of time indoors during this season of the year, fostering a warm environment by showering each other with good vibes. Perhaps this serves as the basis for several well-known Nordic lifestyle routines, such as the Danish and Norwegian idea of 'hygge', which is the straightforward act of recognizing a special emotion or occasion.

Image of a beige designer chair standing in an empty room with white walls and wooden floors - Infusion Home Interiors.

The limited usage of furniture was not just for decorative purposes. Nordic design is characterized by minimalism, which frees up space for the free movement of air and light. The Nordics also hold the view that products should be built to last rather than needing to be replaced frequently. Nordic design is admirably uncluttered and uses materials to create timeless designs that may be utilized in any season of life.

A Brief History Of Nordic Design

Long before it was well-known worldwide, Nordic design had existed. The journal Skønvirke, which translates to "Graceful Work" in English, was first published in 1915 by a Danish enterprise for ornamental arts in an effort to promote regional handicraft. This was created to compete with the more well-known Art Noveau trend, which at the time was reserved for the wealthy and affluent. In this time period, social commentary exerted increasing pressure on the arts, which opened the door for upcoming designers to present a more approachable alternative. This innovative idea was known as Art Deco, an industrially inspired design philosophy that Nordic design must have borrowed from.

In what was previously referred to as the "Golden Age of Scandinavian Design," artists like Alvar Aalto, Borge Mogensen, Verner Panton, and Maija Isola came together in the 1930s. Constructivism, Functionalism, and Surrealism served as inspiration for the ideas that would lead to the iconic milestones of Nordic design, which are still celebrated in the design community today. Examples include Verner Panton's bright red Panton Chair, Marimekko's vivid floral prints, Arne Jacobsen's Egg Chair, and Michael Bang's Holmegaard Palet Storage Jars.

The world didn't really get to see what Nordic design had to offer until the 1950s. Exemplary designers who made significant contributions to Nordic Design between 1951 and 1970 were honored with the Lunning Prize, which is considered the European designers version of the Nobel Prize. This sounded the alarm for both domestic and foreign contributions. Design in Scandinavia, a traveling exhibition featuring the best designs from the region, was organized in 1954 by Elizabeth Gordon, a tastemaker who supported the local design movement. As the tour makes stops in the United States and Canada, this show helped popularize the term "Scandinavian Design." In turn, American culture has been impacted by Nordic design, and this effect can be seen in the modern architecture of many important cities.

Image of the poster used to advertise The Stockholm Exhibition in 1930.

The Difference Between Nordic And Scandinavian Design Explained

Image of a living room with modern minimalist Nordic design showing wooden floors, ceiling and wall with sunlight shining in - Infusion Home Interiors.

When comparing Scandinavian and Nordic designs, there are a lot of commonalities. Both have a minimalist aesthetic, strong clean lines, and a focus on natural light, as well as the use of organic materials and colors.

Between the two types, there are, nevertheless, also minute variations. According to some designers, Nordic design is cozier and more influenced by traditional craftsmanship and craftsmen, whereas Scandinavian design is more practical and minimalist.

Image of a living room with cozy Nordic design, gray furniture and red brick walls - Infusion Home Interiors.

In Nordic design, the neutral tones are frequently contrasted with a pop of color and comfort, like a vintage blanket in vibrant color.

While some use the phrases interchangeably, some designers believe that Nordic designs are more tactile and comfortable. And on the other hand, Scandinavian designs focus on clean, understated, and geometric lines.

Descriptions of Nordic Design for Each Scandinavian Country

Living room with a Swedish Nordic Design - Infusion Home Interiors.

Swedish Design

Characterized by maximum simplicity, limited furniture, and the number of ornaments. This trend is considered to be purely organic, with many handmade elements. Mainly natural materials are used here, which - like the color scheme - are kept in light colors, usually white, beige, or light gray.

Living room with a Nordic Danish design - Infusion Home Interiors.

Danish Design

This interior design style is more artistic, and it is characterized by lightness, for example, soft chairs, armchairs, or sofas. The whole interior is well thought out, harmonious and coherent.

The Danish style is less restrictive than the Swedish when it comes to matching and blending color palettes. Often splashes of intense colors such as yellow, blue, and purple are used.

Corner of a living room with Nordic Norwegian Design - Infusion Home Interiors.

Norwegian Design

Stark colors mixed with contrasting patterns create a quiet aesthetic. Norway’s designs have always focused on a strong minimalist aesthetic of beauty combined with functionality.

Light colors combined with decorative items that create an ambiance of warmth, for example, throws, chunky rugs, and candles, define the design style of this geographically rugged coastal nation.

Living room with a Nordic Finnish design - Infusion Home Interiors.

Finnish Design

The Finnish design style can be said to be the opposite of the Danish style, and it is the rawest and cool of all Scandinavian trends.

The furniture resembles geometric figures, which increases the seriousness of the interior. There is a strong contrast to the ubiquitous white in the form of details in dark colors. Sometimes this style resembles industrial interiors.

Defining Elements to create Nordic Design in your Home

Below are the key elements that make up Nordic and Scandinavian Design.

By following these points when planning a Nordic Design, you are well on your way to creating this relaxing, timeless and functional look in your home or whichever room you would prefer.

Light Colors

The basic palettes in Scandinavian style are light, neutral colors. The main colors are white, beige, and light grey. Metallic colors such as gold, silver, and copper are also quite common. They give the room more brilliance and an industrial look.

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Textiles have a dominant role in the Scandinavian space.

Nordic style likes natural materials such as cotton, linen, wool, and jute.

Rugs with a thick weave are also good as accessories.

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Natural Materials

Wood is the most important and most used material. It brings a little bit of raw natural esthetic to this bright and calm style. Green plants in the home create a lovely ambiance. Different species of ferns and succulents, as well as Ficus, fit in perfectly. Stone also plays an important role. It goes perfectly with wood, marble, or cement.

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Comfort and functionality are the basis for interior design in a Nordic style. It is also impossible to avoid the word minimalism. Part of that style is keeping your decor simple - this also applies to furniture. The concept means that there is a focus on functionality.

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Properly chosen lighting not only gives each room its own special feeling and ambiance, but it can also bring out the elements of the design we want to emphasize or hide what we don't like.

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Varied Decor

The task of decorative ornaments is to complement the Scandinavian interior. A characteristic feature of accessories is practicality and emphasis on the light Nordic interior. Natural, organic materials also apply here. However, an excess of ornaments is not recommended.

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To sum it all up...

Scandinavian homes like simple, clutter-free, and non-fussy layouts.

The essence is to create cohesive interiors that emphasize an elegantly minimalist yet cozy and welcoming aesthetic.

It is a wonderful style that is easy to suit your own personal taste in decor. And remember to have fun designing your new interior look. Good Luck.