I’ve long been an admirer of Scandinavian furniture designs. The elegant simplicity of straight lines matched with form and function, all twisted in a way to seem natural– the Scandinavians sure have a way of making their designs appear effortless. Likely, quite the opposite is nearly always true. Designing in a way compatible with both function and the beauty of symmetrical form, is often quite the effort!
The history of Scandinavian furniture as a distinct class of furniture is quite short, dating back only to the 1950s when it became quite a popular trend in the Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Shortly thereafter, the popular style of interior furnishings hopped over the pond, as it were, and became a spreading cultural phenomena often found in middle-class suburban homes throughout the boomer era.
Part of the explosive growth over the years of interest in the design style has come as a result of a number of design awards that were offered, usually on an annual basis to those who could create the best piece of furniture in that year, based on the panel of judges. Specifically, the Lunning Prize was the primary motivator of designers and was offered yearly from 1951 until 1970. Many young designers would chase the fame and notoriety that would flood to the winners of these prizes.
‘It always starts with a task. I never say to myself that now I’m going to make a piece of art. I tell myself I want to make a good chair.” Hans J. Wegner
Such powerful words can inspire an athlete, a parent or another aspiring artist. When one is able to conceive their medium of art as one of form and function rather than simply expression, one has become more than an artist. Scandinavian design inspires the soul because it takes the art of interior design to the next level by imbuing it with the element of engineering prowess required to truly craft a piece of furniture that literally stands the test of time.
Whether or not you decide to decorate your home using the simplicity of Scandinavian design or not, at least you have become more familiar with one culture’s way of approaching a specific design challenge. For any rooms or spaces that call for an element of simplicity, look to the Danish, the Norwegian and the Finnish before you’re finished.