The History and Origin of Scandinavian Interior Design

The History and Origin of Scandinavian Interior Design

The principles of Scandinavian or Nordic interior design are minimalism, practicality, and muted colors. Modern interior designers incorporate these principles, and we find these elements in our homes. However, what does Scandinavian design involve, and where did it originate?

What is Scandinavian interior design?

Scandinavian interior design is minimalistic, focuses on light, airy spaces free of clutter, and combines beauty with functionality. Although most people associate Scandinavian design with furniture, designers use these principles in architecture, fashion, electronics, and interior design.

In interior design, Scandinavian design involves furniture, ceramics, textiles, and lighting. Large windows and doors allow maximum natural light and remove unnecessary clutter make the space airy and bright. The most popular colors used in Scandinavian design are neutral and monochromatic. For example, you can combine white with black and tan colors and pop color in pinks, grey blues, and sage.

In addition, the Scandinavian interior design includes organic and natural materials that reflect Nordic countries’ relationship with nature. Consequently, designers often use lightened wood, cotton, and wool in furniture. House plants bring in natural calmness adding to the calmness of the space.

Scandinavian design is popular because it creates a calm, clutter-free space filled with light and a warm theme making their home cozy.

Scandinavian design origin and history

Scandinavian design movement originated from the five Nordic countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden, and Norway at the beginning of the 20th century. The movement consisted of designers, companies, and products based on minimalism, functionality, and simplicity. Nature and climate inspire the designs to create clean lines and simple designs.

The design movement started in the 1930s after the world wars when European designers desired new modern and innovative trends. Consequently, the Scandinavian designers came up with new creative processes in line with the improved industrial technologies.

The need to keep mass production costs low resulted in new styles that enhance the structure and natural characteristics of raw materials used. As a result of combined creativity and industrialization, the Nordic design focuses on shapes with delicate profiles, light, and flowing features.

From the 1930s, the golden age of Scandinavian design begun with designers such as Alvar Aalto (Finland), Borge Mogensen, Hans J. Wegner (Denmark), Arne Jacobsen (Denmark), Josef Frank (Sweden), and Maija Isola (Finland). One example is the Chinese Bench design by Danish designer Hans J. Wegner. The 1946 design features a multi-seat chair consisting of ash wood with a natural color that complements the product’s structure.

Interaction between creativity and technological evolution resulted in other iconic creations such as the stacking chair produced from a single mold and the Panton chair created by Danish designer Verner Panton in the 1960s.

Scandinavian design gained international recognition and popularity in the 1950s when exemplary Scandinavian designers won the Lunning Prize between 1951 and 1970. In addition, the editor of House Beautiful magazine Elizabeth Gordon was instrumental in developing the Scandinavian design. Elizabeth Gordon organized a traveling exhibition dubbed “Design in Scandinavia” in 1954 in other countries, including the Brooklyn Museum resulting in the modern use of these design trends in America and other countries.

The history and influence of Scandinavian design is a subject of debate among scholars, with many emphasizing that the democratic design ideals were the central theme. Additionally, the beautiful designs were of high quality and utilized sustainable materials making them affordable and easily accessible.

What is the significance of Scandinavian design?

The guiding principles of Scandinavian design are rooted in creating harmony with the environment. The lasting designs thus complement the art of living well through a simple home ambiance that is clutter-free and filled with quality items.

Scandinavian design is important because it promotes well living. A calm, light-filled clutter-free home is an essential counter to the pressures and stress of modern life. The design is minimalistic, which challenges rampant consumerism, which is vital for the environment. In addition, the design incorporates sustainable materials which preserve the environment and deepen our connection to nature.

The versatility of Scandinavian design makes it popular in modern contemporary styles. It combines clean lines, minimal aesthetics, and multi-functional elements while leaving plenty of room for self-expression. The elements of Scandinavian design result in a simple but elegant modern space that is cozy and welcoming.

Scandinavian interior design, furniture, and lighting

The basic principle of Scandinavian design is minimalism; therefore, the few pieces of furniture should be functional and practical. The furniture is high quality, timeless, and uses sustainable natural materials.

The Scandinavian design includes maximizing natural light because the Nordic countries do not have enough, especially in winter. The Scandinavian design aims at effectively distributing light without creating a harsh environment. The design maximizes natural light using large glass windows, and each room includes multiple light sources. You can incorporate candles for warm low light or a glowing low ceiling light.


Hygge is a Danish word associated with the Scandinavian design to express the mood of coziness, feelings of contentment, and wellness. Since the word describes the emotional response to a feeling, it is challenging to design for hygge. However, you can promote a sense of comfort and happiness in your home.

You can incorporate Scandinavian design to create a cozy environment and encourage well-living. Make your home airy and bright with large windows to let in natural light, install low-level lighting and candles and make your home clutter-free. Additionally, incorporating natural materials such as woolen blankets and indoor plants will bring a sense of calmness to your space.