“Nordic design” or, best known as “Scandinavian design” (refer to ScandinaviaStandard to see the difference between both denominations) is widely recognized as minimalist and mostly stick to a black and white color palette. However, there are thousands of years of design tradition behind each product and piece of furniture that has been carefully crafted. Scandinavian materiality is all about using materials the right way while also achieving the desired function.
It is quite difficult to summarize the complete story behind the Nordic tradition from the design field. Nevertheless, I want to share the basics of what Nordic design involves and where it is heading up in regards to the climate challenges we are all going through. As I have mentioned in my post “10 Leading Architecture Offices from Scandinavia,” the design practice in the Scandinavian countries strongly focuses on sustainable ways of living and building our future. Also preventing waste in all fields related to the architecture and design industry. From the beginning of their design tradition, Nordic designers and craftsmen have always pursued a sustainable way of making everyday objects striving for simplicity and long-lasting household items. Produced with local and enduring materials that add value to consumers and users. The philosophy behind their design tradition is founded on making the most out of local resources and combining different materials so as their properties to conceive minimalist aesthetics attached to functional products to comfort users and contribute to the well-being of consumers.
What interests me is that most designers across the Nordic countries have been trained as carpenters, artisans, ceramic and glass producers, etc. They know from A to Z the complete manufacturing process from each product they conceive. Scandic designers are foremost known from working hands-on hands to produce their own design objects. This is what creates a tight relationship with their creations and further development and improvement. They take care of their tools and working space and have different rituals and habits around daily life at the atelier. These small aspects intensify the relationship between designers and their products, even if produced in mass. What I praise the most from their philosophy is to DO THINGS PROPERLY TO A HIGH STANDARD.
“I find that Scandinavian craftsmanship is shaped by its emphasis on quality above everything else, birthed from a desire to simplify and refine one’s work for it to have a democratic appeal; making it relevant for the many rather than the few.”Thomas Bentzen x Muuto
To wrap up all things mentioned, here are the top design brands I personally love and have purchased some products from them. When you visit their websites, don’t forget to look at the stories behind all featured designers, so as the story behind each company or brand to delight yourself with their design methodologies and tradition.
HAY was founded in 2002 in Denmark. This design brand aimed to create contemporary furniture using sophisticated industrial manufacturing to satisfy the needs of the modern living. One of their goals is to make accessible to the largest possible audience high-quality design with an international appeal. HAY’s catalog of products is inspired by stable structures from the architecture practice and the dynamics of fashion. Seeking to combine values from both industries into lasting, high-quality products. HAY has positioned itself as one of the most popular design brands in Denmark and across the world, joining forces with internationally renowned brands such as Herman Miller.
Muuto has its roots in Scandinavian tradition characterized by enduring aesthetics, functionality, craftsmanship and honest expression. They combine extensive research on materials, techniques and creative thinking in order to deliver new perspectives on Scandinavian design. Their name “Muuto” means “New perspective” in Finnish. They bring together the strongest contemporary designers to interpret their design philosophy.
&Tradition forms a bridge between the old and new by creating furniture, lighting, and interior objects with timeless appeal. They bring back design icons from past masters and create tomorrow’s classics. Featuring iconic designs from the early 1900’s such as Verner Panton, Arne Jacobsen, among other gold classics, to high-end contemporary objects from international designers like Norwegian duo Anderssen & Voll.
Normann is a Danish design company with the mission to create original and innovative products with contemporary and timeless design. They seek to challenge conventional thinking through their sublime designerly tradition. They have presence in more than 80 countries around the world aside fro, being an award winning company within the field of design.
MENU design infuses a sense of calm through minimalist lines and natural tones, and provides high comfort and functionality to simplify and enrich modern living. Clever, clean, and natural are the three principles in which MENU founds their design philosophy, so they call it “soft minimalism.” Partnerships with top talents from the design and architecture fields are at the heart of MENU’s work.
ferm Living was founded by Trine Andersen with the search for a unique taste around the way of living. Their mission consists of navigation of expectations and dreams in the search for meaning and comfort. Their collection is all about having a balanced life with room for chaos and calm, moments of reflection, and joy.
Design House Stockholm comprises an eclectic collection by creators from various parts of the world. All of them follow the baseline of Scandinavian design tradition with a pinch of their very own personality. The result is a collection of design classics with timeless appeal and qualities that outlines temporary trends.
Founded in 1951, Marimekko is a Finnish lifestyle design company with a colorful portfolio full of a wide variety of patterns that propose a unique and original design idiom. Their collection includes high-quality clothing, bags, accessories, and home décor items ranging from textiles to tableware.
Credits from the cover photo belong to © MENU.
By Lorena Cruz