Between the East and Scandinavia

Valentina Pepe


Modern graphics for a style that oscillates between the opulence of decor and Nordic atmospheres.

Different but equal, opposite but converging, antithetical and concordant. On one side is the East, which can make us plunge into colour and re-open dances in a distant place where you can breathe energy; Synchronous sound and grandiose feelings of civilizations, of lost splendor. On the other, Scandinavia with its desire for purity, cold colours and white candles that smell like berries. The latest inspirations of decor and interior design reflect these two trends, stolen or borrowed, into the graphic arts, fashion, and music; with some deviation on the theme that turns into a comprehensive wellness philosophy, or the highly topical "Hygge" style. For better orientation you have to start from the definition and deeply assimilate these styles that seem to escape stereotyped classifications and yet have very specific dictates.

Eastern wind

Dragons, bright colours, gold, and perhaps even a slight "horror vacui". For the East, ornamentation is filled with sacred symbols and decor becomes almost a prayer. The Eastern style in vogue now is not the so-called "Japan style," where the essence of a gesture inevitably becomes poetry, but "made in China" opulence and hyperdecoration. It features writing symbols, finely decorated objects, the lotus, the bamboo, and the Maneki neko (the lucky cat, 招 き 猫, literally the "Cat that calls") for a sensual atmosphere, brass polished and dotted with fairytale tinsel and busts. In the house exist a riot of colours, earth tones, iridescent cushions, chiseled mirrors, and meditative lights.


Scandinavian rigor

Sober and elegant, Nordic design, rather than a trend, is a true aspiration. Genuine materials are the main features of a style that aims to reach the essence, the root. Natural, relaxing, accessible, perfect for any space of the house, from the living room to the kitchen, the Nordic style plays on graphic tones and nude finishes. The inborn patterns of this language create atmospheres of simplicity and comfort, where you can get good night's rest. Scandinavian furniture is thus linear, but with sophisticated allure in which wood, a typical material in Northern Europe, becomes part of environments primarily characterized by visual rigor and soft colours, creating a sensation of warmth and familiarity. The essences are used in their pure and natural version: spruce, pine, and birch wood combined with other materials such as leather, linen or cotton to give the simple and geometric lines of this style, the necessary notes of warmth and comfort. 

The value of Scandinavian design is not only in product quality but also in processing, producing things that are sturdy, with a timeless yet modern attractiveness; from the original pieces by masters such as Alvar Aalto to the new collections of leading brands in the sector signed by a generation of talented designers who are much loved and followed. The motto of Nordic design is "less is more," as we learn from Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, to eliminate the superfluous and leave only the essential, whether it be in materials, decor, or functional excess. The must-haves in this style are the velvet sofa, the lights (from natural to the tripod lamps) a corner dedicated to relaxation and reading, the blue, the sage green, pale pink for elements that create a delicate contrast. For the walls, light nuance like light gray, white cream, creamy yellow and sky blue.


The Hygge philosophy  

The inhabitants of Denmark are happier than those of any other country, according to recent statistics. The answer seems to be in this new, untranslatable, and highly trending word: "Hygge," one of the most viral topics of 2017 and already a craze on social media. It has over 14 thousand results on Google and a million and a half posts on Instagram with the hashtag #hygge, featuring images of dozing puppies, steaming cups, and carefree dinners among friends. In England, the Oxford Dictionary has included this among the "words of the year" (before Brexit). Ultimately it is a word with many uses and nuances, but always linked to something anti-modern and tinged with nostalgia. As well explained by the most recent of books on the topic, "Hygge" by Marie Tourell Soderberg, this word sums up a central concept in the lives of the Danish people: a "concentrate of happiness and intimacy." Hygge is more a way of being, a lifestyle; to find the most comfortable place in the house, spending time with people you love, the ability to unplug and put duties to the side — all of this thanks to a healthy and welcoming environment. Design is at the base of everything, with less rigor than the classic Scandinavian style, and instead a warm touch of colour and enveloping textures.

The ability to mix everything

And if you like all these styles? How do you choose? Sometimes you can choose not to choose. The right attitude is to get involved in the styles, in their most contrary expressions, and play. The great designers of the past teach us that this game is at heart a serious business, and just as how, in a perfect cocktail, the ingredients are selected and balanced, yet sometimes unbalanced on purpose to put emphasis on a detail, so too must one know how to bring together clothing and accessories from different cultures and historical periods. This blending of different styles is the most original way to express the taste of the "mix and match" (born from the exoticism of late 1600s in correspondence with imports into Europe of Chinese silks printed with birds, leaves and flowers). The key is not to be afraid of being daring, matching dragons with flowers, and then the entire essence of wood and pastel colours for unique, inimitable, fantastic details that pulse with that breath of class that characterizes the internal character of eclectic personality.


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