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Scandinavian Modern: Furniture? Who? What? Where? When?

For us here at Olson and Baker we find a lot of customers asking us, “What is Scandinavian Modern design?” Well for us, it’s everything! 90% of our collection follows some kind of Scandi Modernism character. A lot of our pieces are also inspired by Modernist style, a close relative to Scandinavian Modern. Allow us at O&B to guide you through the past, present and future of Scandinavian Modern design. 

What is Scandinavian Modern Design?

Scandinavian Modern design, often simply called Scandi Modern, is a design movement that emerged in the mid-20th century. Firstly, it’s characterised by its simplicity, functionality, and connection to nature. Moreover, this style is not just a design choice; it’s a reflection of the Scandinavian way of life. Lastly, it prioritises practicality and comfort without sacrificing beauty.

Scandi Modern vs. Modernist Style

While closely related to Modernist style, Scandi Modern takes a unique approach. It blends the clean lines and minimalism of Modernism with a warmer, more organic feel. This is achieved through the use of natural materials like wood and a palette often inspired by the Nordic landscape.

The Rise of Scandinavian Modern Design

Post-World War II, a significant transformation unfolded. Designers from Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and Norway embarked on a creative journey. They began crafting a range of home products. These items were not just ordinary; they embodied the core principles of Scandinavian Modern design. The range was extensive, covering everything from furniture to textiles. Each piece showcased understated elegance. Moreover, there was a strong emphasis on everyday functionality.

As a result, the 1950s and 1960s witnessed a remarkable boom. Scandinavian Modern design rapidly gained popularity. It significantly influenced homes across the Western world. This era marked a pivotal moment in design history, as Scandinavian aesthetics became a household staple in numerous countries.

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Scandi Modern Furniture by Fredericia

Can Scandi and Modern Mix?

Absolutely! The beauty of Scandinavian Modern design lies in how neutral it is. Its clean lines and natural palette make it a perfect complement to more modern elements. Mixing Scandi pieces with modern decor can create a healthy and inviting space.

Origins of Scandinavian Modern Design

Post-War Emergence

As mentioned, after World War II, a significant shift occurred in Scandinavian design. Designers from Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and Norway spearheaded a movement. Chiefly, this movement redefined home aesthetics. As a result, they created a range of products, from furniture to ceramics. Not only were these products beautiful but also accessible to the average consumer.

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Cranbrook Academy: A Crucible of Talent

The Cranbrook Academy of Arts in the United States was instrumental in this design revolution. Initially, Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen took the helm as its first director. Under his guidance, the Academy fostered a creative and nurturing environment. Consequently, it attracted a wealth of Scandinavian talent. As a result, the institution transformed into a melting pot of innovative ideas. Here, future design legends began to emerge. Notably, these included Eero Saarinen, Ray and Charles Eames, Florence Knoll, and Harry Bertoia. Each of them honed their craft at Cranbrook, shaping the future of design.