The term “Scandinavian Design” originates from a design show which travelled through North America in the mid-1950s. Adding a touch of grace and elegance to functionality, Scandinavian design is simple, clean, playful and accessible.
Scandinavian interiors tend to be bright, light, cosy and practical, inspired in part by the need to combat the all too stark and dark Nordic winters. Scandinavian design complements this ambiance by keeping it simple, turning the ordinary into extraordinary.
Building a Design Empire
The Finnish iittala (www.iittala.com) brand harks back to the 1930s with the designs of Alvar Aalto and Kaj Frank. Adding colour, movement and shape, their tableware and decorative items have become iconic, as relevant today as when first conceived. While faithful to the original concept of understated functional elegance, new design at iittala adds character and diversity. iittala is a subsidiary of the Fiskars Group (www.friskarsgroup.com) and together with Fiskars is the group’s leading brand. Through a series of corporate acquisitions, Fiskars, the first Finnish company ever, has grown from a knife and scissor speciality shop to a pan-Scandinavian multi-brand empire, the world leader in Scandinavian home products. The Fiskars Group includes these leading Scandinavian brands: Arabia (Finnish dinnerware with a folksy flare), Hackman (Finnish stainless steel cookware and cutlery), Høyang Polaris (Norwegian cookware), Höganäs Keramik (Swedish ceramic tableware), Raadvad (Danish cookware and utensils), Rörstrand (Swedish fashion tableware), and its latest acquisition, Royal Copenhagen (Danish fine china). An iittala brand store opened this past year in Tel Aviv, featuring iittala, Fiskars and Arabia products. According to Lior Azuelos, CEO of Fiskars Israel, the allure of timeless design and quality craftsmanship is not lost on Israeli consumers: “Many were aware of the brand before we opened and were delighted to find such a large selection under one roof.”
Glamour in Glass
Sweden has a designated area of the country, Glasriket, where its long history with the art of glassmaking is celebrated. It is home to many glassworks, some with museums and visitors’ centres where the glass blowing hall may be viewed and pieces purchased. Colourful art pieces and everyday objects are produced. The more notable are Orrefors Glasbruk, with the adjacent National School of Glass and Kosta Glasbruk, which is the basis for the Kosta Boda company. Each glassworks has its own distinctive design traditions, character and atmosphere.
From Trash Bins to Infinity and Beyond
When mentioning Danish home accessories, two names immediately spring to mind: Georg Jensen (www.georgjensen.com) and Rosendahl (www.rosendahl.com). Before becoming a brand, Georg Arthur Jensen was a silversmith who opened shop in 1904. Today Jensen is an internationally recognized brand for quality jewellery, silver, cutlery, kitchen and home decoration products. The Rosendahl Design Group came on the scene in 1984, originally as an agency mainly for iittala products. It started producing its own designs in 1992 and opened export markets in 1997. The company also includes the quality Danish glassware company Holmegaard and wooden toy designer Kay Bojesen.
As ubiquitous is the Danish home design company VIPP (www.vipp.com). Vipp’s claim to fame is a stainless steel pedal trash bin, originally designed by 1939. The bins attained celebrity when world renowned artists and designers were invited to leave their mark on the classic bin in a campaign to raise money for charity. One of those honoured was Israeli designer, Ron Arad, whose take on the bin can be best described as a crushing experience. In 2011, VIPP opened its flagship store in Copenhagen and today, as VIPP reaches 75, the company has put out a call for all vintage trash cans.
From Legacy Design to Design Legacy
Design is taken very seriously throughout Scandinavia and in no small part, its enduring success is the dedication to cultivate and showcase young talent. Finland’s Helsinki Design District contains 200 shops, galleries and museums, including the Design Museum, the Museum of Finnish Architecture and Design Forum Finland, an organization dedicated to promoting Finnish design. Famed home textile and fashion designer, Marimekko (www.marimekko.com) got its start in Helsinki and maintains a store in the Design District. The company is currently celebrating the 50th anniversary of its most famous design, its Unikko Poppy design. Guided walking tours operate on weekdays throughout the summer, including encounters with upcoming Helsinki designers. Those interested particularly in home accessories may also wish to visit A&A Design, Aero Design Furniture, Design Eero Aarnio Showroom, the Finlayson concept store or Nounou Design Showroom.
Copenhagen doesn’t have a designated design district, but does have a growing number of design stores which play a similar role in mentoring young designers. Illums Bolighus has been the place to go to when looking for quality home accessories since 1925. Design items for every room in the house by famous Scandinavian designers can be found here and in the sister shop in Stockholm. One store which has taken Copenhagen by storm is the Normann Copenhagen (www.normann-copenhagen.com) flagship store in Østerbro which was awarded the Denmark Global Innovation Award(GIA) for “most innovative store”. The Normann Copenhagen brand was created in 1999 by Jan Andersen and Poul Madsen, driven by a belief in excellent design and a determination to make a difference in the industry. Their first Normann Copenhagen product, the Norm 69 lamp, was launched in 2002. Collaboration with established design names and new talent from Denmark and abroad soon resulted in 38 further bold and exciting products. One of these has been created by Dor Carmon (http://dorcarmon.com), an Israeli designer who specializes in lifestyle products.
Israel’s design legacy may not be as rich as Scandinavia’s, but growing awareness of architecture and design are taking hold. Founded in 2009, the design incubator Talents Design (www.talentsdesign.com) is the brain child of its owner art director and mentor, Gal Gaon. Focusing on luxury items, Talents Design produces two collections a year which are sold to private clients, collectors, architects, interior designers, galleries and auction houses. All pieces are Israeli made. SOHO 100% Design Shop (www.sohocenter.co.il) is a growing retail chain which brings Israeli and international design together. It focuses on affordable innovative design spanning a wide range of products and designers: cookery and houseware, gifts, bags, jewellery, and lifestyle products. It hosts more than one hundred contemporary Israeli designers, including among others, Monkey Business, Peleg Design and OTOTO. Scandinavian designers carried by the chain include Danish home accessories and kitchenware designer Eva Solo and Swedish Sagaform.