SCANDINAVIAN MINIMALISM 101

Scandinavian minimalism is a design movement that has gained widespread popularity in recent years. The style is characterized by a focus on simplicity, functionality, and clean lines, with roots tracing back to the early 20th century when many Nordic countries were experiencing significant social and political change. Interest in creating a more democratic society grew, and the desire for equality and simplicity was reflected in the design of everyday objects.

 

AÔĽŅrne Jacobsen & Erik M√łller, Aarhus Town Hall, 1941

 

Architecture

Scandinavian minimalist architecture is characterized by a simple and functional approach to design, with an emphasis on clean lines, natural materials, and neutral color palettes. The focus is on creating a sense of calm and tranquility in the space, with an emphasis on natural light and an open floor plan. The use of sustainable materials is also a key aspect, with designers often incorporating elements such as wood, stone, and metal into their designs. The design philosophy has become increasingly popular in recent years, with its emphasis on simplicity and functionality resonating with those seeking a more minimalist and sustainable approach to everyday life.

 

"IF ARCHITECTURE HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH ART, IT WOULD BE ASTONISHINGLY EASY TO BUILD HOUSES, BUT THE ARCHITECT'S TASK - HIS MOST DIFFICULT TASK - IS ALWAYS THAT OF SELECTING" 

- Arne Jacobsen

Arne Jacobsen, Bellevue Theatre Klampenborg, 1936

Erik Gunnar Asplund, Law Courts Annex Gothenburg, 1936

 

Arne Jacobsen, Petrol Station, 1936-38

 

Arne Jacobsen, SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen, Opened in 1960

 

 

CHARACTERSITICS

  • Simplicity: The design philosophy is to keep the building design and interior decor as simple as possible, with minimal ornamentation or unnecessary features.
  • Functionality: The buildings are designed to serve a specific purpose, and the interior spaces are designed to be practical and efficient, with everything in its proper place.
  • Natural materials: Wood, stone, and other natural materials are often used in Scandinavian architecture to create a warm and inviting atmosphere.
  • Light and airy: Large windows and open floor plans allow for plenty of natural light, making the interior spaces feel bright and airy.
  • Neutral color palette: The use of a neutral color palette, often featuring whites, grays, and blacks, helps to create a sense of calm and serenity.
  • Geometric shapes: Clean, geometric shapes are often used in Scandinavian architecture to create a sense of order and simplicity.
  • Sustainability: a focus on energy-efficient materials to minimize the building's impact on the environment.

Arne Jacobsen, St. Catherine's College Oxford, 1962

Alvar Aalto, Viipuri Public Library, 1933-35

 

Alvar Aalto, National Pensions Institute Helsinki, 1955

Alvar Aalto, Viipuri Public Library, 1933-35

NAMES TO KNOW

  • Alvar Aalto
  • Arne Jacobsen
  • Hans J. Wegner
  • Poul Henningsen
  • Verner Panton
  • Erik M√łller
  • Finn Juhl
  • Jens Risom

 

Alvar Aalto, Technical University Auditorium, 1953-66

Art & Design

The philosophy behind Scandinavian minimalistic art and design is also centered around the idea of creating a harmonious environment that promotes calmness and wellbeing. The minimalist style often employs muted colors, clean lines, and geometric shapes to create a sense of order and clarity. Furniture and other functional objects are made from natural materials like wood, leather, linen, and steel, with an emphasis on quality and durability. While there is often an aspect of starkness to these designs, their straightforwardness carries an understated sophistication. In art, the focus is on minimalistic expression with an emphasis on pure form, often highlighting the beauty of the materials used. 

 

Poul Henningsen, Pendant Light, Bronze with Copper

"BUILDING ART IS A SYNTHESIS OF LIFE IN MATERIALIZED FORM. WE SHOULD TRY. TO BRING IN UNDER THE SAME HAT NOT A SPLINTERED WAY OF THINKING, BUT ALL IN HARMONY TOGETHER"

- Alvar Aalto

Alvar Aalto, Artek Stool 60, 1934

 

Hans J. Wegner, Flag Halyard Chair, 1950

Arne Jacobsen, AJ-Cutlery, 1957

 

Alvar Aalto, Aalto Vase, 1936

Hans J. Wegner, Wishbone Chair, 1949

Arne Jacobsen, Butterfly Chair, 1955

Poul Henningsen, AJ Table Lamp, 1924

Arne Jacobsen, Cylinda-Line, 1967

MATERIALS

  • Wood
  • Stainless steel
  • Glass
  • Leather
  • Linen
  • Straw
 

Alvar Aalto, Paimio Chair, 1931-1932

Verner Panton, The Panton Chair, 1959

 

Alvar Aalto, Maison Louis Carré, 1956

 

With its timeless elegance and propensity toward calm, Scandinavian minimalism has become increasingly popular - most likely due to our increasingly hectic lives. One of our favorite modern interpretations of the movement is the home of Creative Director/Designer couple, Pernille Teisbæck and Philip Lotko.

  

Images via Architectural Digest Germany