Scandinavia is a term usually used to encompass three countries: Denmark, Sweden and Norway. When it comes to design, however, another two nations join the list: Finland and Iceland. With its roots in minimalism, Scandinavian style - sometimes abbreviated to Scandi style - emerged in these countries in the 1950s and is still popular to this day.
At their core, the minimalism and functionalism that have influenced Scandinavian style are about how everyday objects should be accessible to everyone, not just the rich. The movement rose out of a post-second world war Europe and the rise in availability of mass-produced items.
It is this focus on function that gives Scandi furniture its unique look. The designs are generally simple, with clean lines. Scandi furniture is made from wood, or laminate for more economical pieces, and there has always been an emphasis on quality manufacture. Scandi style fits very well with the minimalist movement, keeping things simple and using objects for multiple functions rather than holding on to lots of different pieces for limited use.
For many of us, our introduction to Scandinavian furniture came from flat-pack superstores; however, serious collectors pay premium prices for pieces created by Scandi masters such as Juhl and Carl Hansen & Son. Scandinavian furniture often features in displays in design museums and auctions.
If you spend some time googling the great names of Scandinavian design, such as Kristian Somer Vedel and Verner Panton, you will see the trademark elements that can still be found in products available around the world today. Scandinavian design made its mark; for now, at least, it is here to stay.
Modern design and Scandi design often overlap. Minimalism and mass-production were not only features of Scandinavia but also happened across the world, leading to more streamlined looks everywhere. It is the use of light and colour that sets Scandi designs apart. With many of its home countries deprived of light in the winter, pale woods, bright fabrics and open designs make the most of the ambient light that does exist.
The same is true of the accessories, complementing the pale woods with bright textiles. These often feature folk-influenced designs of birds and flowers, or indeed anything that evokes the great outdoors and warmer weather.
For real lovers of the Scandi style, a trip to any of the countries will give you the opportunity to visit their design museums and see further examples of works created by talented designers and master furniture makers.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of Scandi design is that it sits well alongside other styles, allowing you to change the look of your home, piece by piece, until you have the clean design and light colours that are its trademark. Just be aware that the calming curves and clean lines can be rather addictive.