Modern Scandinavian Design, published by Laurence King Press and due to hit shelves on October 2, is a comprehensive, beautifully illustrated guide to practically everything you’d ever want to know about the Scandinavian design tradition. Covering work from 1925 to the present day – with designers from Denmark, Finland, Norway, Iceland, and Sweden – this nearly 600-page tome covers egalitarian, everyday products meant to enrich daily life.
In the book’s introduction, the authors cite Swedish artist Carl Larsson’s 1899 small book of illustrations, Ett Hem (At Home) as central to understanding the essence of Scandinavian design. “[The] Scandinavian notion of home [centers around] light-filled everyday spaces furnished simply and tastefully.” At its core, Scandinavian design is laid-back, inspirational, and democratic.
“In Denmark, there has also long been a quest among designers for ‘ideal forms’, which has involved reworking the age-old vernacular and archetypal forms to create designs of rare aesthetic and functional refinement,” write the authors. From this, the hygge philosophy emerged, which placed significant value on the way objects make us feel and how they contribute to our happiness. “It emphasizes the importance of ‘being’ rather than ‘having’, and of living in the present.”
While Modern Swedish design tends to focus on utility, with a more “industrial quality than, say, Modern Danish furniture,” both traditions are human-centric, and rooted in egalitarianism. “In comparison,” write the authors, “Finnish design has tended to have a more refined quality, often inspired by the raw beauty of nature.” It’s in this exact spirit that the book is constructed, showcasing a wide range of furniture, textiles, architecture, lighting, glassware, woodenware, graphic design, and much more, with over 1,000 illustrations.
Modern Scandinavian Design is a must-read for any contemporary designer and architect, as well as students, academics, curators, and design novices. It’s jam-packed with history, beautifully curated sections, as well as lavish graphics, making it this year’s must-have design book.
Want more design book recommendations? Check out our 2016 Holiday Book Guide for Design Lovers here.