Style seeker, have you come for inspiration or to discover how rattan pieces can form part of your chosen destination? Either way, for all things Scandi, New Nordic even, you are in the right spot. Once sated, check out our style guide on vintage.
What is Scandi?
Scandinavian design began to hit its current groove in the early part of the 20th century, before being exported worldwide via design shows, mid-century Scandi furniture trends and global Scandinavian furniture megastores. Clean lines, calming colours, lighting and natural influences shape the style. Scandi has been around long enough that people have begun to ask how long it will persist. The evolution of New Nordic might answer those.
How did Scandi originate?
Historically and culturally close, the Nordic countries Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland, along with territories including Greenland and the Faroe Islands, are the birthplace of Scandi style. Outside of Scandinavia itself (Sweden, Denmark and Norway), we tend to refer to the Nordic lands and Scandinavia as one and the same. Technically, of course, they aren’t, but we’re here to talk about furniture. We’ll use Scandi to describe the style, and Nordic to describe the wide group of lands where the style grew up.
What is Scandi style?
Born from a mix of the lands’ diversely cold, harsh and temperate climates, their forests, mountains, lakes and coastal regions, Scandi design inevitably developed a closeness to nature, seen in materials, colour palettes and approaches to space. Equally, the northerly position of the Nordic lands influence the Scandi style in terms of light and dark, and also warmth. Think about monochromatic colour schemes, the maximisation of light (key when days are short) and the centricity of fireplaces, stoves and other places to keep warm.
In a nutshell, Scandi style has become known for space, decluttering, maximisation of light and warmth, natural materials and clean lines. With the influence of Scandi on areas like Danish mid-century furniture, and the ubiquitousness of Sweden’s IKEA, most homes have garnered at least something of the Scandi look.
Latterly, we have seen the emergence of New Nordic. New Nordic takes the Scandi base notes and introduces a little of the colour, warmth and texture popular in other styles. A little of the austerity of Scandi is removed, like a few drops of yellow in a pure white paint. For this emerging trend, rattan and wicker furniture makes a particularly strong choice, as we’ll see.
Characteristics of Scandi design
The feeling Scandi design aspires to create is calm. This is minimalism and declutter, but without losing the feeling of homeliness. You are stepping out of the cold and dark into a sanctuary, still connected to nature beyond your walls. Pieces should be carefully chosen to avoid clutter, accessories and design elements should be maximum impact, minimum quantity or fuss.
It’s time to adjust your perception of Scandi furniture. Some of the world’s most important furniture trends have come out of the Nordic lands, certainly, but as we move to New Nordic, the scope exists to play with the boundaries of what works in Scandi spaces. Natural materials is a characteristic of Scandi furniture which persists, but softening lines by choosing wicker over wood is not only a sustainable choice, but also a way to bring new textures into the space, without losing that connection to nature. Indeed, both painted and natural wicker lend themselves to the Scandi colour palette, particularly as warmer tones are added to the traditional black and white.
The traditional colour palette of Scandi design is monochromatic. White to maximise light is partnered with black, and shades of grey. Where other colours are introduced, it’s often in the form of a connection to nature. Green plants, blue grey pebbles, and so on. Some might set this look off with bold statement colours used sparingly, as everything goes with black and white. The New Nordic style, though, is introducing a range of tones, often through the use of different materials. Beiges and browns enter through hessian and wicker textiles and furniture. Greens and browns arrive through a proliferation of plants.
Texture and where vintage meets Scandi
A further evolution of the New Nordic style is in the use of texture. While Scandi prizes decluttering and clean lines, leading to bare walls and floors, the increased use of elements like shag rugs have brought a retro influence into Scandi design, particularly with the proliferation of Scandi vintage pieces. In this way, the textiles of the 1970s might be paired with vintage Scandi furniture to create a look which is at once somewhat Scandi, clearly retro and something altogether different.
As New Nordic emerges, the classic vintage status of Scandi furniture is throwing up new possibilities for people blending Scandi basenotes, vintage furniture and elements of new natural colours, textures and materials. With sustainability and nature at the core, it’s a trend poised to persist.