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Exploring the Timeless Elegance of Scandinavian Design and Furniture

A living room using scandinavian design and furniture

The classic elegance of Scandinavian interior design is a timeless, popular choice among home design enthusiasts. Its simple, elegant, and functional design features make this style versatile for many types of homes. Though you’ll see Scandinavian designs in many modern homes, it has a long history; developed in the mid-1900s.

The interior design’s core tenets have spread from its home countries of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland to the rest of the world. Its minimalistic fashion is also convenient for many to adopt into their own homes. Let’s explore the principles that define and differentiate authentic Scandinavian furnishings, and how the style developed.

The Roots of Scandinavian Design

Developed by the five Nordic countries in the 1930s, the Scandinavian design was inspired by the new industrial technologies at the time. Developments in mass, high-quality production of furniture changed the demand for home decor. Stylistic furnishings that exemplified modern, sleek, and functional usage became more accessible.

Manufacturers embraced colors of the natural materials they worked with, also using simple lines and bold shapes. This expanded to textiles, fabrics, lighting, ceramics, and even gadgets. Textile artists and designers could indulge in decor that struck a balance between rustic and modern simplicity.

Artists such as Alvar Aalto, Borge Mogensen, and Maija Isola were instrumental in defining the Scandinavian design profile. All these new products shaped home decor, encouraging homeowners to get rid of clutter and focus on necessities.

Key Characteristics of Scandinavian Design

Several key tenets shape classic Scandinavian design. These features promote harmonious, comfortable, and efficient living with minimal effort. They exemplify the concept of “hygge”, a Nordic term describing ultimate coziness.

1. Natural Lighting

Airy spaces with windows carefully placed to enhance natural sunlight in the home are often used. Bright light serves not just to portray a clean and fresh inner space, but also to make the home appear bigger.

2. Simplicity and Functionality

Home design is optimized to be simple but functional, without sacrificing beautiful aesthetics. Cluttered spaces are a big no, so accessories aim to organize items. These include cabinets, shelves, and tables with space underneath.

3. Inviting Textures

Engaging textures from pottery, wooden furnishings, textiles, and fabrics add novelty to the space. This is added onto with soft, plush pillows and blankets in areas of relaxation. In the cold regions where Scandinavian design originated, these accessories made the home more inviting.

4. Muted Colors

Neutral, soft colors go hand-in-hand with many of the organic materials used in this decor. Cotton, wool, lightened wood, and clay have earthy, complementary tones. Walls are painted in greens, browns, and offset whites that tie in the palette. Wood accents are often added. Pops of color can shine through in lighting, accessories, or houseplants for greenery.

5. Clean Lines

Furnishings often have clean, straight, or curved lines. Tapered legs and rounded edges to cushions and table corners are common. Areas are well-defined by the furnishings within them, and where their function ends.

Iconic Scandinavian Furniture Designs

There are multiple designs still held in iconic regard by Scandinavian design enthusiasts. Their works are often regarded as real-world, practical decor inspired by artistic eras. These include constructivism and even surrealism.

1. The Egg Chair by Arne Jacobsen

A picture of an Egg Chair.

Invented by a Danish designer, the Egg Chair is now a globally recognizable design. The rounded back and corners cocoon its user. The Egg Chair is so popular, that many re-designs of it are found. Hanging egg chairs add a whimsical touch, while hard plastic egg chairs are more corporate.

2. The Wishbone Chair by Hans Wegner

A picture of a wishbone chair

Created in the 1940s, the Wishbone Chair uses smooth, curved lines with simple wooden features. The backing of the chair resembles a wishbone shape, while the seat is made of woven rope. The chair complements many other furnishings and decorations with its neutral tones and intriguing shape.

3. The Piamio Chair by Alvar Aalto

This photo of a Piamio chair shows the unique style of Scandinavian design and furniture

The Finnish architect designed this chair in 1932, inspired by another popular chair design made of tubed steel. The design uses organic shapes, catching the observer’s attention.

Incorporating Scandinavian Designs into Your Home

Transforming your own home to follow a Scandinavian design style isn’t difficult! By following these practical tips, you can slowly incorporate the design’s core principles into your living area.

  1. Add more (natural) lighting! Get rid of thick, heavy curtains and replace them with sheer cotton or linen curtains. For privacy, you can add obscuring window films instead of blinds that block out light. If you have limited windows, you can supplement them with warm-toned lighting fixtures that resemble warm sunlight.

  2. Change your color palette. Leave bright colors to smaller accessory items, like paintings, candles, or throw pillows. Keep walls and floors neutral, earthy colors that brighten the space.

  3. Find simple furnishings with organic shapes. This also includes dishware, shelves, tables, rugs, houseplant pots, and gadgets. Search for clean lines and natural shapes similar to the examples shared above.

  4. Add authentic, local artwork to your space. Find artwork that uses bold imagery and blank spaces to make an impact. Abstract artworks or typography are usually a great place to start.

  5. Get rid of clutter. Minimalism is at the core of this design style. Throw out (or donate) items that you don’t get any function out of, and just take up space. De-cluttering your home will help you live more purposefully and peacefully.

Scandinavian Design Today

A simple yet stylish Scandinavian interior design

Scandinavian design has made its way into the urban and corporate spaces of cities all around the world. Environmentally conscious people might find themselves drawn to this style, which makes the most of organic shapes and nature-inspired colors. Homeowners can also isolate multiple features of the Scandinavian home design for a more diverse look.

For example, Scandinavian graphic design, with bold colors and shapes, is a wonderful artistic addition. With clean lines and vibrant (though restrained) colors and shapes, this artistic style reflects traditional Scandinavian furnishings. It makes a big impact but keeps a space’s overall look clean, elegant, and simple.

Scandinavian fashion and design today also make an effort to add a touch of playfulness to an otherwise serene and sophisticated home.

  • Saturated jewel tones,

  • utilizing local plant life,

  • and clashing patterns

display the homeowner's personality. The local artistry and crafts aspect of Scandinavian design is crucial to the larger goal of sustainability.

With the style’s propensity for functionality, it’s only natural for designers to choose materials that will last for years. High-quality, handmade furnishings crafted by experts are the better choice for this design. While prices for these items are higher than mass-produced plastic tables, chairs, and beds, they provide more value. These authentic Scandinavian crafts can last for generations and have a timeless look.

Where to Find Authentic Scandinavian Furniture

Scandinavian furniture brands to consider

How can you add authentic Scandinavian decor to your home? There are several great brands that offer traditional furnishings locally made in Nordic countries. The Finnish Design Shop is one, with a vast selection of items, including authentic Alvar Aalto designs.

Norman Copenhagen is another, which uses natural materials and colors in their designer furniture. Anything you’d need for your home (other than gadgets) is found in their collection - from mirrors to lounge chairs.

Lastly, Stelton is a wonderful brand that’s been around for over 50 years. Despite its long history, the brand still aims to set trends with innovative designs based on Scandinavian principles. With their items still produced locally in Denmark, you can be sure to receive high quality and craftsmanship from their collection.


The Scandinavian design is a timeless, minimalistic aesthetic that inspires a welcoming living atmosphere. Any homeowner or interior design enthusiast can apply the style’s core principles to their own space. If you’re new to the style, try experimenting with Scandinavian furniture, accessories, and gadgets in your own home. You can add any range and degree of the style’s colors, materials, and shapes to your environment, slowly transforming its energy and aesthetic.

Want to elevate your home to a Scandinavian masterpiece? Contact Azula Designs today and talk to one of our experts about this interior style or any others that inspire you.


Image by Ralph (Ravi) Kayden
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