The Word Writ Large
– Scandinavian Artwork and Prints for the Home.
Mention Nordic interiors to your average Joe and he’ll instantly think of great white expanses of plaster, wooden floors and maybe (if he’s imaginative enough) a sense of gentle melancholy.
He’d be right and wrong. The Scandinavians are a creative bunch and, as fervent as they are about maintaining their no-frills attitude to life, love, food and art, that creative urge does spill out. In a restrained and purposeful manner, of course, but spill out it does. More often than not, it ends up on the walls in the form of large two or three-colour prints, housed in unobtrusive frames.
Monochromatic and eye-catching
Monochromatic doesn’t have to mean black and white – although it often does – Scandinavian wall prints are often composed with two different shades of the same colour, or two or three different primary colours. What you don’t get is a chintzy, fussy feel when you hang up a Nordic-style wall print.
A frequent theme is typography, which is often black and white, sparse and yet expressive. The words and letters combine to evoke a concept, or an emotion, like home, efficiency, nature or industry. There’s not much whimsy here, we’re dealing in robust, broad strokes of life and this is possibly why the Scandinavians tend to only hang a few large prints or pictures up.
When it comes to smaller prints or photos, the aim is to keep things together, so you might find that one wall of every room is devoted to a collection of framed images. Again, the frames recede into the background, allowing the “meat” of the image to come to the fore.
When there’s colour…
It’s bold and usually abstract. And big. Splashes of colour here and there are a key Scandinavian design theme and like everything Nordic, it’s all done sparingly but effectively. There’ll be big canvases with stripes or other shapes on, set against a white or cream wall, with very few other features nearby. Your eye is drawn to it immediately.
If it’s not abstract, it’ll be something natural, pared down to its basic elements – a bird, evoked by a couple of brushstrokes or printing blocks, for example.
The golden years
Scandinavia’s golden era was the mid-20th century, when bold social programmes and a revived industrial base took off. The hopeful adverts and posters from this era are also very popular and inspiring and grace many a whitewashed wall both in and outside of the Nordics.