Scandinavian countries have been titans of design since the 1950’s and the reason for that is obvious, following the key architectural concept of American architect Louis Sullivan that “form follows function”, Nordic design is all about sleek lines, utility and the beauty in simplicity.
While you may not want to remodel your entire home in a Scandi-inspired way it is absolutely perfect for a home office – creating a calming, comfortable room with little in the way of distractions that is certain to let your creativity flow and inhibit your procrastination.
So here are some tips on how you can add some chic and modern Scandinavian design to your home office (and no, we don’t mean by picking up a new desk chair from Ikea).
1. Opt for organic flooring
A key theme, that runs through most schools of Scandinavian design is an appreciation of the inherent beauty held in natural materials and objects. This means despite their proximity to the Arctic Circle Scandinavian countries love exposed floor boards, and you should too! You can opt for either a softwood such as pine or a hardwood like oak, both look great, finish with either a natural varnish or paint them in a neutral colour. Don’t worry about the room becoming cold! Just put down a few rugs, which will will help to insulate the room and work as decorative centrepieces.
2. Lighting is key
Getting your lighting right is one of the most important things in any room. It doesn’t matter how beautiful your furniture is or how well you’ve tailored your colourscheme, if the lighting casts unpleasant shadows or just doesn’t quite work you’re going to avoid using that room, and the Swedish know this all too well, after all northern towns such as Kiruna experience entire months where the sun doesn’t rise!
Use retro/industrial inspired pendant lights for your overhead lighting paired with sleek desk lamps. It may at first sound a little unprofessional, but consider tactically placing a few candleholders around the room, in addition to making nice decorative accents when unlit they can serve a purpose. The Danish have a word we’ve previously spoken about called ‘Hygge’ which essentially means that cosily intimate warm ambiance that Scandinavian design is so synonymous with, and you’ll be glad of that warm glow created by candlelight while you’re reading through that big proposal for the fifteenth time on a dark winter night.
3. Mix up neutral colours
Scandinavian design has historically been all about neutral colour palettes; browns, greys, blacks and of course whites are staples of the concept. But that does not mean you cannot mix up these colours with more vibrant colours for subtle aspects of the room. Painting most of your walls white provides an unobtrusive picture frame for the room, drawing focus to those aspects you want to such as works of art, textile patterns and that modernist furniture. Scandinavian design is also particularly fond of layering of colour, use different shades of the same colour to add further depth and warmth to the room, without becoming overly distracting.
4. Add ornaments
Despite what it’s critics say, Scandinavian design actually does tend to employ a fair amount of embellishment to a room. From mirrors and pictures hung on the wall to ornaments and houseplants placed on different surfaces. The secret to it is, just that what is on show in a room is done so very deliberately.
Using the clever storage Nordic furniture designers are so famous for you can minimise the visual clutter to your office, which will help you to concentrate better. Avoid overly cluttering any one particular area, for example consider hanging wood-framed mirrors and artwork on your walls at different levels – this helps to prevent the room from feeling sparse while not causing any one focal point to become chaotic.
5. Textiles and furnishings
Many furniture manufacturers are still producing furniture that is clearly reminiscent of the great mid-century Scandinavian designers such as Alvar Aalto, Poul Kjaerholm and Ole Wancher, so picking up furniture for your super-cool new office should not be difficult.
Choose natural materials for the furniture if you can. A real-wood topped desk will give you a warm and tactile surface to work from. If you have the space think about purchasing modernist sofa for your office, not only will it add character to the room and give guests a place to wait, it will be a great spot to sprawl out over like Don Draper while you ruminate on complex business concepts, or for when you just need to take a break.
Accentuate objects by adding furnishings with geometric or nature inspired prints but don’t overdo it. Just a few cushions or blankets will do wonders.
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