Design: Made in Scandinavia

Nordic style is easily embraced, writes Ben Crawford.

Photos / Ben Crawford
Photos / Ben Crawford

If I wasn't a New Zealander I think I'd like to be Scandinavian. Don't get me wrong, I'm a staunchly proud Kiwi living the dream in the best country on Earth, but goddamn those Scandinavians are a seriously stylish bunch.

If I was Scandinavian I would have been born with an incredibly suave dress sense, and inherited those designer genes capable of turning functional furniture into objects of art that are coveted around the globe.

I've always admired Scandinavian design from afar, often wishing I could jump through my computer to live in some of the perfectly curated homes profiled by the interior design blogs I follow.

It's fair to say I've loved the influx of Scandinavian-inspired furnishings that have been emerging throughout New Zealand over the past five years - especially the reinterpretations crafted by our local designers, who would easily give their Nordic counterparts a run for their money on the world stage.

But nothing can beat seeing the real thing in the flesh, a bit like watching Manchester United play at Old Trafford or the All Blacks take on the Wallabies at Eden Park.

You can imagine my excitement when I had the opportunity to visit Stockholm recently, albeit for a frustratingly short 24 hours.

Although in hindsight my bank balance appreciated the limited duration of the trip.

With the summer solstice mere days away I was treated to almost continuous daylight, allowing me to hit up as many furniture stores, designer studios and galleries as my eager eyes could handle.

It was awesome and I left the beautiful Swedish city with a brain full of ideas.

Five common themes I spotted during my whirlwind visit:

1: Marble

I've always associated marble with high-end, sumptuous kitchens or bathrooms but it was not a material I gravitated towards until my Stockholm sojourn.

I discovered marble being used in unexpected, contemporary ways.

It can be paired with timber or brass to create everything from candleholders to coffee tables.

Head over to online homeware store Let Liv for some marble and stony treats to light up your life.

2: Leather Accents

From dining chairs and mirrors through to vases and bookshelves, beautiful pale leather accents were popping up everywhere, typically combined with timber and metallics, for some serious

I-wish-I-could-fit-you-in-my-suitcase moments.

Check out New Zealand designers Douglas and Bec to get your hands on some locally crafted leathery highlights to bring some Scandi-cool into your home.

3: Geometric Patterns

While it's not exactly a new phenomenon, shapes have been appearing on everything from cushions to bed linen over the last couple of years, I noticed in Sweden that this aesthetic isn't disappearing anytime soon, particularly when it comes to rugs. While we've seen a lot of brightly coloured combinations in the past, the palettes seem to have been muted down a notch or two, with more earthy tones working in harmony to sit under beds, coffee and dining room tables.

Browse the collection of New Zealand artisan rug-making company Dilana Workshop for a uniquely patterned rug of your own.

4: Pastels

Pastels seem to be taking over the world, escaping from the confines of walls to cover almost every object within the home in their calming pale hues. I found blush pink sofas, duck-egg blue oven mitts, coral duvets and peach stools to name but a few of my pastel encounters. Peruse Let Liv to satisfy your pastel cravings, then combine them with the leathers, metallics, timbers, marble surfaces and tiles mentioned earlier and you'll have a seriously on-trend Scandinavian-inspired home.

5: Tiles

There was an abundance of fully tiled spaces, particularly in bathrooms, kitchens and dining areas. In typical Scandinavian style, the colour of choice was white on white with plenty of timber accents, although there was a particular penchant for tiling the lower half of a room white and the upper half black, creating sleek, monochromatic areas. I can't go any further without mentioning the fully tiled cafe I fell in love with. As well as being beautifully furnished, the stunning white eatery was finished off by the most unique ceiling I've ever seen - copper piping running up the walls to form a giant lattice pattern above the diners below.

- Herald on Sunday

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