5 Key Features in the Scandinavian Approach to Design

With the mania for hygge these past few years, chances are you have heard about Scandinavian design; an aesthetic movement widely known for its minimalist and functional values. The designers behind the movement; Alvar Alto, Borge Mogensen, Arne Jacobsen, Maija Isola–just to name a few–placed a huge impact on design and style in the 1950s and has since influenced contemporary interiors across the world. So naturally, we should ask ourselves; what is the philosophy all about?

To start off, Scandinavia does not only refer to one place––it’s several. The term traditionally refers to three northern European countries: Norway, Sweden and Denmark, which in recent times have been expanded in common usage to include Finland and Iceland (Nordic region nations). Though there are obviously few prominent historical and cultural differences, they are united under the umbrella of interior décor that is influenced by the region’s dark, cold and short days in winters.

The main principle of Scandinavian/Nordic design is to improve our daily life by using natural materials, minimalist shapes and pale colours as to maximise on what little sunlight the northern region does receive. While it has been most widely recognised in furniture, the philosophy can in fact be applied to any item that complements our daily lives; and as such has tremendously inspired our values and product aesthetics here at Jajamän!

In essence, there are five principles that Scandinavian design abides by:

1. Functionality

The design is intended to be first and foremost useful. The harsh weathers of northern Europe have pushed Scandinavians to develop a strong practical approach that optimises limited resources while bringing a concrete solution. Functionality is therefore critical to the composition, which has similarly informed the design of our bags that ensures their practicality for daily use.

2. Nature-inspired

Scandinavian design is deeply rooted in nature and inspired by their landscape of mountains, forests as well as natural resources originating across the region. The colour palette associated with Scandinavian designs, such as birch wood, teak, soft pastels and bright metallic shades reflect the region’s nature in its striking beauty. Likewise, the different shades of our Tottakai backpacks are inspired by the Nordic region’s natural elements; for example foss {Norwegian: waterfall}, tuohi {Finnish: birch} and terva {Finnish: tar}.

3. Good design

Scandinavians believe that good design is vital to their quality of life. Clean lines, simple designs come off as inviting and elegant, as well as intimate. The idea is to be effective without the heavy use of elements. In line with minimalism, our Tottakai bags are uncomplicated and made by hand in Portugal, with cork leather as the material of choice. Material sourcing with a focus on quality and environmental impact is crucial in this aspect, with a simple formula: only what is needed is used.

4. Reliability

This is hand in hand with the idea of being functional. With an emphasis on quality over quantity, Scandinavian design stresses on creating well-crafted objects that guarantee longevity. Using cork leather, which in fact works as the perfect alternative to animal leather, allows us to create ecological bags that also carry amazing properties, such as being tear-resistant, anti-fungal, waterproof and hypoallergenic! Aesthetic-wise, the bag may not be made extravagant, but it should be well crafted as to last a long time.

5. Inclusivity

Another interesting virtue of Scandinavian design is the ideological stance it holds, with the emergence of the Scandinavian democratic and egalitarian spirit after World War II. The idea is that beautiful and functional products should be made accessible to everyone, and not merely reserved for the wealthy. Based on this principle, we firmly believe that producing good quality materials that are timeless and durable will not only reduce our environmental impact, but also encourage us to cut back on consumerism in terms of spending energy and money.

Essentially, at the heart of Scandinavian design lies functionality and craftsmanship that incorporates natural and simple elements, without eliminating its beauty. It is as much about a philosophy, as it is about a look. So check out our Tottakai backpacks collection to see how they agree with the Scandinavian approach to design and share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

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