At least a quarter of all local homeowners choose a Scandinavian or a Scandinavian-inspired theme for their home renovations. Ironic, really, considering the stark contrast between the cool climes of the Nordic countries and our sunny tropical weather. The question is – are Singaporeans tiring of Scandinavian design?
Is It Even Scandinavian…
Before we establish the enduring or waning popularity of Scandinavian décor in Singapore, we should first ascertain its authenticity (or not) in the local context.
By definition, Scandinavian interior design embodies simplicity, minimalism and above all, functionality. It is a democratic design movement, based on the belief that good design should be accessible to the masses. Within Scandinavia, it was originally called ‘functionalism’. It emerged in the early 1900s, reached its peak in the 1950s and lives on in the ‘IKEA’ aesthetic.
In general, Scandinavian designers favour natural materials such as wood, leather and cotton over synthetic ones, and light, neutral colours over dark, dramatic ones. They draw their inspiration from nature.
In the 60s and 70s, Scandinavian designers began to experiment with new materials like fibreglass and plastics. Though the materials changed, the clean lines remained.
In Scandinavia, a light-filled interior and the absence of clutter conspire to create a comfortable, inviting indoor environment during the long cold winter months. In Singapore, they are likewise a logical response to our climate – but in our case, to provide relief from the heat not the cold. They are also particularly suited to our compact living arrangements, since light colours and a lack of ornamentation visually enlarge a space.
Above all, Singaporeans are a practical bunch of people, just like the Swedes, Danes, Norwegians, Finns and Icelanders. Our embrace of Scandinavian design is no doubt related to our world-renowned love of efficiency.
Scandinavian interior design, interpreted in the local context, no doubt differs from its original form and context. But the very fact that it has been adopted for practical reasons related to climatic conditions and space constraints, and adapted to incorporate the durability and cost-efficiency of modern building materials, is true to the essential spirit of the pragmatic Danes and Swedes who birthed it.
Into the Light
Scandinavian interiors are characterised by an abundance of natural light. ‘Naked’ or barely dressed windows that admit sunlight are the norm.
Wooden It Be Nice
Wood, the lighter the better, is the favourite material of Scandinavian designers. In the local market, solid wood is costly, prone to swelling due to the moisture content in the air, and fodder for termites. However, the rise of laminates enables an easy-to-maintain wood-like look at a fraction of the price.
Come In, Outdoors
Almost every Scandinavian house has a splash of greenery – nature’s air purifier and a one-of-a-kind piece of living décor. Not surprisingly, the Nordic countries are leading the world in sustainability and healthy living. Though we live in a garden city, as a nation we are lagging behind our Nordic counterparts. But we’re playing catch-up!
Here to Stay
In conclusion, so long as Singaporeans pursue pragmatism over whimsy and favour functionality over frivolity, Scandinavian design has a home in our homeland.
Whether you intend to opt for a Scandinavian décor theme or are veering towards Victorian, rustic, tropical, industrial or any other concept, you are no doubt conscious of cost. Though ‘cheap and good’ is the elusive ideal that we true-blue Singaporeans covet, ‘cheap’ is not always ‘good’. What you should be aiming for is genuine value for money.