The terms Scandi and Mid Century Modern tend to be bandied around and often used interchangeably so it’s not surprising that some of us may get a little bamboozled by which is which! And the truth is that there is a very blurred line between the two. Let’s try and get some clarity here so we can distinguish between them.
Of course the most obvious distinction is geographical. Mid Century Modern evokes American architecture and furniture whereas Scandi or Nordici is obviously rooted in the work of Scandinavian designers. So Eames is MCM and Wegner is Scandi. Simple. Job done. Well…not quite. While Eero Saarinen is FInnish by birth he moved to the USA when he was 13 and his style is far more Mid Century Modern than it is Scandi. So what is the stylistic difference that we need to be aware of?
Coming our of the USA, Mid Century Modern style embraced modern production techniques and therefore a lot of moulded plastics were used. Such as with the Eames DSW and DAR chairs or Saarinens’s Tulip chair. And of course American was in the middle of the space race and embraced anything that was forward thinking with a hint of Sci Fi. Furthermore, MCM design was very popular in California and in Palm Springs in particular. So the warm (or blasted) climate affected the style too. Bright colours and furniture that could be just as happy outside as in, took the lead.
Meanwhile in Scandinavia, designs were heavily influenced by nature. Featuring organic shapes made from natural materials such as wood, leather and wool and harnessing traditional craftsmanship. Again, the climate had a major influence. Colours tend to be muted pale and natural tones with earthy browns or black as a contrast. Large windows to allow in as much light as possible, log burners for warmth, sheepskin rugs, cushions and throws all contribute to the cosy style that we now know as “hygge“.
The two styles can certainly be used together to great affect. In fact it can be a lovely idea to simply change the accessories with the season. Rattan can be used all year round but simply throw on the sheepskin cushions in the winter. And change the rug from a summery fabric weave to a shag pile for the winter. Voila!