Scandinavian design history

Scandinavian design background

Scandinavian design is a term that represents design movement that emerged in the 1950s in the five Nordic countries of Finland, Norway, Sweden, Iceland and Denmark. As we wrote in our previous blog post of Nordic design style and razors, the movement is characterized by simple, minimalistic yet affordable design style. Scandinavian design has been a core theme in the development of modernism and functionalism. The idea in short was that the beautiful objects and everyday items that we use should not be affordable only to the wealthy, but to everyone.

Scandinavian design history in short

The early times of the 20th century were characterized by volatility, partly because of the WWI and WWII and the growing unease of the social order. Most art movements after the WWI became revolutionary instead of evolutionary, a reaction to the upheaval of war. The goal was provocation and a break from old systems. Scandinavian lifestyle After the World War II, Scandinavian design emerged. The subtle decorative qualities stemming from the early 20th century art movements and the simple lines deriving from the inter-war art movements gave the style its elegance. The concept of “beautiful things that make your life better” was highly regarded. Scandinavian design has often been referred to as democratic design, because its’ aim to appeal the masses through products that are accessible and affordable.

The term “Scandinavian design” took its’ place in the global design scene after a design show that took place in the US and Canada under the the same term from 1954 to 1957. The design show promoted the Scandinavian way of living and demonstrated various works by Nordic designers. There were other larger exhibitions around the time prior and after that as well, such as the Stockholm exhibition in 1930 and the Arts of Denmark Exhibition at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Arts in 1960.

The movement was at its’ peak worldwide from 1951 to 1970 and established the meaning of Scandinavian design as it continues today: beautiful, simple, clean designs, inspired by nature and the northern climate, accessible and available to all. Those elements still live on, even though the aesthetic side has still been evolving for decades and influenced by art and design in Europe.

Scandinavian design today

As the society has been developing, Scandinavian design has moved from simple and clean lines of furniture and product design to a variety of principles and processes and from there to current problems and opportunities. There is a large base of Scandinavian companies operating globally in the design field that are strongly characterized by the Scandinavian design. Here are just a few (excluding the clothing/fashion industry): Arabia (FI), Electrolux (SWE), Georg Jensen (DEN), Hrím (ISL), Iittala (FIN), Ikea (SWE), Kvadrat (DEN), Louis Poulsen (DEN), Marimekko (FIN), Orrefors (SWE), Royal Copenhagen (DEN), Stokke AS (NOR), Søstrene Grene (DEN), Umemi (ISL), Variér Furniture AS (NOR).

The Scandinavian Fashion Schools have also been awarded lately in the global rankings despite the small population of the countries. On the 22nd of August, 2016, BoF ranked three Scandinavian Universities into global the top 50 at their Global Fashion School Rankings (BA): 3. Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture (FI), 26. Design School Kolding (DEN) and 39. Swedish School of Textiles (SWE).

The user-centric approach

As the Scandinavian design continues to evolve along with the societies, it is crucial to keep the customers at the center of development. The products that are simple and beautiful, yet uniquely designed, will have their place in the digital era as well. In my opinion, the core functions of simplicity and minimalism also take their place in designing most of the best websites, services and companies in addition to physical products.

Viking Shave Club is built on those principles as well. We designed our razors to meet the needs of the demanding shaving needs, while our service is made to be as convenient as possible. We re-designed the razors, since they are one of the everyday products that just were not worth the price. It is great to see that our members have noticed the value (thank you again!). We highly appreciate the constant feedback and suggestions we have gotten from all of you so far, and will keep on innovating while listening to your thoughts in the future for sure. If you wish, you can read more from our earlier, shorter blog we wrote this year about Nordic design style and razors.

-Sami M.


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