There’re certain values underpinning the Scandinavian style. One is environmental friendly production which has a long tradition in the Nordic countries. But in 2016 environmental friendly is not enough. Now we are in for the whole story; we want to know how, from where, by whom and of what the product is made.
Transparency is another Scandi style quality. In the iconic design from the Modernism until now there’s no hiding of materials used. On the contrary, you can easily detect that a Wegner ”Y-chair” is made of solid wood and paper cord. You’ll also know from where the wood is taken and how the paper cord is produced.
Making of the Wishbone Chair aka ”Y-chair” by Hans J Wegner, designed in 1949 and in production by Carl Hansen & Son since 1950. Solid hard wood and paper cord. Video copyright Carl Hansen & Son.
The lack of ornament of the classics has blended with new colour schemes and materials and transformed into contemporary. It might be minimalistic, but it is a ”friendly minimalism” where the reduced form comes forth as visual sustainability.
Marfa light, garden torch by Claesson, Koivisto, Rune for Smaller Objects (2015). Galvanized and powder coated steel. The dark anthracite grey colour also has a practical function – it is forgiving to the soot formed by burning. Photo copyright Smaller Objects.
Natural materials. In 2015 we learned that one of the most common materials of the Scandinavian and Nordic design, namely leather, is not as good as we thought. Instead the production of leather has proved multi toxic and carries a disturbing amount of abuse to and suffering by animals, humans and environment. We also learned that big scale production of wool is at risk becoming the next full scale disaster. Not long ago we also realized that production of cotton is a huge evironmental problem. Flax is popping up as a possibility for the future. But the Scandi designer of today also do hi-tech, perhaps most obvious with the lighting brands where the heritage of the Scandinavian traditions is used to create world leading design.
From growing flax to harvesting, preparing and spinning it into linen. Manhattan kitchen towel by Peter Condu for Klässbols (1981). Photo copyright Klässbols.
Busby light by Sam Hecht & Kim Colin/Industrial Facility for Wästberg (2015). The contemporary Scandi lamp is no longer a subject of electricity but of electronics. Printed circuit boards, micro-chips, diodes and interfaces are now the staple ingredients, giving us greater control, conserving energy and providing longer lifespans. Photo copyright Jara Varela/Wästberg.