Scandinavian vs. Minimalism: Knowing Lagom from Less is More
Scandinavian design has slowly but surely crept into the heart of the interior world, and it seems like it’s here to stay. And we couldn’t be happier about that! But what is Scandinavian design? We see it in designs of major retailers like IKEA and design houses like Artek/Marimekko and alike. We love the simple lines and neutral palette…but how is it different from minimalism? Both styles are characterized by simplicity where form follows function and elements of calm. We know it can be confusing, so we’ve set out to differentiate between the two to guide you in your interior journey.
What is Scandinavian design?
Image by:Scandinavian Homes
Many of us think that Scandinavian design is a branch of Minimalism, and when you think about characteristics of the style, it certainly looks like it. But Scandinavian design originated and peaked before Minimalism originated. The Scandi design style emerged in the early 20th century, and by the1950’s, the style flourished in the Nordic countries: Denmark, Norway, Finland, Iceland, and Sweden.
The reason why Scandinavian style became so popular is rooted in weather. In Nordic countries, the cold climate is often unforgiving which is why homes became streamlined to be as functional and cozy as possible while using as little resources as possible.
A term associated with Scandinavian design is lagom, which translates to “just the right amount.” The right amount also implies not indulging and over-using natural resources, that’s why Scandinavian designers incorporate sustainable materials into their work.
Image by:La Maison d’Anna G.
Scandinavian interiors are characterized by white-washed wood flooring, pale wood, and leather furnishings, contrasting art pieces that are often monochromatic, geometric patterns, and open storage that have the dual function as art pieces. Lavish fur throws add visual intrigue and comfort, while the addition of greenery breathes life into the style. Scandinavian design can make a home feel super cozy with very little, even if when the windows are left bare!
Get the look:
Create your Scandinavian home by choosing neutral colors with monochromatic and nature-inspired art prints and accented cushions. Try to keep materials organic and natural.
- Lina Side Table: Cox and Cox
- Patterned Cushions: Aliex Press
- Faux Fur Throw: West Elm
- Indoor Planter: West End Birds (get your hands on indoor plants)
- Egg Chair: Woodesign
- Framed Monochromatic Print: Brush Point Studio
- Rug: Uttermost
- Couch: MuBu Home
What is Minimalist Design?
Minimalism has become an umbrella term for designs that exhibit clean and simple lines, but there is an essence to pure minimalism that the other “minimalist trends” do not have. Minimalism has become a life philosophy in which one has to minimize distractions from what is truly essential.
Minimalist interiors became popular in the 1960’s as a move away from consumerism; society’s constant urge to keep up with trends by buying things that complicates and clutters homes, and that we, essentially, don’t need.
The movement is heavily influenced by traditional Japanese architecture, Bauhaus (think of the Barcelona chair) and De Stijl design, which focussed on straight lines and block colors. The term “less is more” is one we’ve heard many times, but it is what articulates the aesthetic.
Minimalism is a lifestyle more than an interior composition. This style is characterized by the minimal use of color and furniture pieces. Form follows function, which implies that only a few furnishings are required, with one focal piece. Industrial materials are often used as minimalist designers look to the future to improve products that enhance a minimal lifestyle, resulting in straight-lined elements and sometimes inorganic abstract shapes. That is why steel, chrome, and lacquered plastics often feature in modern minimalist homes.
Get the look:
Image by:Architectural Digest
Create your minimalist interior by choosing your colors first; stick to two colors and keep them simple. Use accent pieces to highlight the focal piece, artwork and lighting are perfect options.
- Couch: Nest
- Chair: eStudio Persona
- Side Table: eStudio Persona
- Coffee Table: Laura Ashley
- Console Table: Wolf Furniture
- Carpet: Uttermost
- Table Lamp: Nedgis
- Art Prints: Brush Point Studio - Floral and New Leaf
Scandinavian and Minimalist designs are very closely related in philosophy and style, and distinguishing between the two can be challenging. We hope that we were able to shed some light on the differences and commonalities between these two calming and ordered design styles.
To add the finishing touches to your Minimalist or Scandinavian home, browse our art collection and printed scatter cushions.
Feature Image by My Scandinavian Home & Zrobym
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