Published on February 11, 2014 | by Caroline Jouinot

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Nordic takeover: Scandimania comes to London

a shot of Ordning and Reda store in Selfridges, London.

Ordning and Reda is a Scandinavian brand recognised for it’s stylish functionality. [Francis Wilmer]

 Hej hej hej! Not a remix of Robin Thicke’s controversial summer hit, but the Swedish word for ‘hello.’

Brace yourself, as it looks like ‘Scandimania’ has reached London and is here to stay.

In the past few years, Nordic culture has had an increasing influence over the capital’s trends; design, gastronomy, music and fashion all gave in to the Scandinavian lifestyle.

With restaurants, boutiques and collectives popping up all over the place, it looks like our Baltic neighbours not only have the recipe for killer meatballs, but an innate flair for everything hip as well.

Of course, we’re all aware of Ikea and their distinctive furniture names that have become common cultural references – you may be reading this in the comfort of your Ektorp sofa, resting your Fargrik cup of tea on the sleek Tofteryd coffee table you’ve just bought.

These days a trip to Ikea is known to be the ultimate make-or-break in a relationship, but it seems that the Scandinavian takeover isn’t just stopping at testing a couple’s interior design limits.

If Pinterest mood boards are anything to go by, we’ll soon be eating ‘gravlax’ flavoured ice cream, while watching The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, crying to our best friend on our Bang & Olufsen phone, wearing COS pyjamas.

Puns aside, there seems to be something intriguingly appealing about the Nordic way of life; with a prevalent and deeper concern to return to functionality, quality and healthy-living commonly associated with the Scandinavian lifestyle, here’s a look at the some of the best Nordic exports.

Design

Taking its roots in the ’30s and extending to the ’70s, Scandinavian design has progressed in parallel to the Art Deco, Modernist and Pop movements.

After reaching its prime in the ’70s, it progressively disappeared during the ’80s-’90s plastic era, where technological progress and a desire for fast consumption slowed down its production process.

In a period obsessed with originality, Scandinavia’s made-to-last furnitures were put aside as they didn’t fit with consumers’ ‘innovative’ fashion.

Today is different as we see a revival in shoppers investing in high quality, built-to-last pieces for their homes.

sign and flags outside an ikea store.

The Scandinavian takeover arguably started with Ikea [Flickr: oimax]

Jean-Baptiste Guesne, London-based furniture designer, told Arts London News: “Scandinavian design has definitely made a comeback. In our actual economical and ecological context, people tend to consume less and are orientated towards more environment-friendly productions.”

Guesne continues: “Scandinavian design is inscribed into a mood for slow design – products created are made out of lasting material, often by small artisanal companies. With most of the population investing in virtual and technological products, slow design is seen as an informal way of allowing us to unplug from our hyper-connected living.”

Characterised by a desire for functionality, comfort and well-being, Scandinavian design has a pleasingly light and elegant look.

With an emphasis on the use of noble materials resistant to oxidation and corrosion in moist air,  this kind of design gives the products their typical minimalistic and textured aspect.

With the home accessories market being the fastest growing Scandinavian sector in the West End, London has seen a surge of Nordic retailers open since 2012: Skandium, Lotta Cole Design and Design House Stockholm to name a few.

Food

With two Michelin stars, Danish restaurant Noma has been ranked as the best restaurant in the world for three years in a row (2010-12) by Restaurant magazine.

With ratings like this, it comes as no surprise that Scandinavian cuisine has become the latest culinary trend.

Restaurants focusing on Nordic gastronomy have increased throughout the London food scene and a number of supermarkets across the UK have started stocking up on Nordic groceries.

 “I’m looking forward to introducing Oslo as a place where good music, fantastic food and inventive drink menus come together” George Akins

Neil Nugent, Waitrose Executive Chef, said: “Scandinavian food is now being discovered for its simple, clean flavours. I think this will eventually become part of the repertoire of foods that Britons eat and some products could be a future food staple.”

With an emphasis on locally sourced, traditional ingredients and the use of traditional techniques – smoking, pickling, curing and salting – Scandinavian gastronomy appears to draw Londoners in for more than its kanelbullar, biksemad and inlagd sill (sweet cinnamon buns, roast pork and pickled herring).

Dubbed the ‘Nordic Diet’ for its reported health benefit, New Nordic Cuisine takes pride in making use of all aspects of ingredients, for limited food waste and simple, authentic meals.

January 2014 saw the opening of two new Scandinavian themed spots: Walthamstow pop-up All You Read is Love and Oslo Hackney; these two places are great to go for authentic Scandinavian food, music, literature and drink.

Quality

Opened on January 22nd, All You Read is Love is a three-week running book café run by Danish siblings Karen and Anders. Focusing on serving responsible sourced products alongside quality craft beverages (beers come from Danish microbrewery Mikkella) this indie boutique will host a series of workshops, including a Nordic literature reading.

After a successful launch night on January 15 and set to host one of the NME Award shows in February 2014, Oslo Hackney is ready to cement its position, as the place to be in Hackney Central. With a menu created around the idea of familiar flavours in unfamiliar combinations, showcasing the techniques of curing, smoking and pickling, Oslo Hackney chef Dave Ahern is sure to make an impact on the East London sphere.

It’s great to be making an impact in East London,” says Oslo Hackney ‘s owner George Akins. “I’m looking forward to introducing Oslo as a place where good music, fantastic food and inventive drink menus come together to provide a great culinary, social and cultural experience. And of course, it’s pleasing to reflect a bit of my Norwegian roots in the name and offering! 

Music

Little Dragon singing

Little Dragon’s Yukimi Nagano is the latest Danish singer to hit the mainstream. [Flickr: Tmmmb]

Another example of Scandinavia’s ability to export its talent is music.

Forget The Cardigans and ABBA; bands from Norway, Denmark, Finland and Sweden have been hitting mainstream success in the last decade and taken the music scene by storm.

Following the launch of her first EP Bikini Daze last October, Denmark’s musical prodigy MØ had already Londoners’ hearts pumping for her third sold out London show at XOYO last November.

With a forthcoming debut album entitled No Mythologies to Follow set to release on February 24, the Danish songstress will be embarking on a European tour in March.

With a forthcoming debut album entitled No Mythologies to Follow, set to release on February 24, the Danish songstress will be embarking on a European tour in March 2014 .

There is definitely something right about the Nordic’s flair for combining sultry vocals to cool electro pop tunes: reaching international recognition is Gothenburg’s trip-hop act, Little Dragon. After collaborating with Damon Albarn for the recording of two tracks featured on Gorillaz’s Plastic Beach album, Little Dragon became the supporting act on their 2010 Escape to Plastic Beach World Tour.

Little Dragon has also joined forces on a number of tracks – including Wildfire – with dubstep sensation SBTRKT, and was featured on record producer and musician Dave Sitek’s debut solo album Maximum Balloon, which ranked 24 on Rolling Stone’s list of the best 30 albums in 2010.

The band has recently announced a 2014 world tour alongside an upcoming album in spring and will be playing at festival giant Coachella in April.

In addition to producing some of the coolest electronic acts, Scandinavia is proving a real motivation for culture export.

In November 2013, the JAJAJA collective joined forces with Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival to launch a two-day Scandinavian festival at the London Roundhouse, showcasing the very best of everything Nordic, including live music, film screenings, food, art and a label market.

Set as a monthly club night at London’s Lexington on Pentonville Road, the JAJAJA club has hosted collaborations with LCMDF, the Raveonettes, Black Lizard and Sakaris.

A recurring attribute of Scandinavian music is the predominance of female acts; Bjork, Lykke Li, Robyn and Elliphant – not to mention MØ’s Karen Marie Ørsted or Little Dragon’s Yukimi Nagano.

Fashion

It seems to be all about ‘Scandi-cool’ these days.

Scandinavian fashion has crept up into London style, as the Swedish fashion giant H&M’s collection of brands keeps growing.

The multinational fashion chain already owns COS, Cheap Monday, Monki and Weekday. H&M also extended their range to home furnishing in 2009.

And Other Stories is the multinational clothing retailer’s latest venture, whose first London shop opened on Regent Street in March last year.

The store already sells in eight European countries and is planning to make its way to the US.

H&M’s success has led to an increase of interest in Scandinavian fashion, creating opportunities for smaller fashion brands to penetrate the market.

While H&M may be the most internationally renowned Swedish fashion company, its success has led to an increase of interest in Scandinavian fashion, creating opportunities for smaller fashion brands to penetrate the market.

Fashion brand ACNE, which started as a jeans brand in 1996, has grown into an all-encompassing creative collective, evolving into a group of companies with the launch of numerous platforms over the years.

They now work in advertising, design, web, TV and film, fashion, magazines and toys. ACNE is considered today as one of the most innovative fashion brands, selling not only clothes but a “framework for individuality” lifestyle.

Unique

So, what’s this ‘Scandi-cool’ fashion movement all about? In a nutshell, Scandinavian style has a focus on attention to detail, high quality material and an original approach to design.

The use of unique fabrics – And Other Stories is selling a number of clothes made out of scuba-suit fabric – gives a tailored, yet effortlessly edgy look.

From February 15-18, during London Fashion Week, London-based fashion showroom and collective Re Present will be showing Re Design: Emerging Scandinavia, an exhibition showing unique fashion by emerging Scandinavian fashion designers.

Organised by the Embassies of Denmark, Norway, Sweden and part of the British Fashion Council’s International Fashion Showcase 2014, the designs will be shown alongside established Scandinavian fashion houses, including Ganni, Carin Wester and Menckel, at Re Present’s London showroom.

Missed the Truman’s Brewery Nordicana Festival 2014? Fear not, there is still time to get your Scandophilia on.

If reading Stieg Larsson and baking trays of cinnamon buns doesn’t sound Nordic Noir enough, head over to Selfridges London, who will be celebrating the best of Nordic style with the Scandi Co-op pop-up.

Kyss!

 

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