Inspirational Mood Boards: Scandinavian Design

Janet Ramin - Scandinavian furniture has seen a strong resurgence in the past decade. Its simplicity and timelessness attracts many admirers around the world. There are different periods of Scandinavian furniture of course, and here, for this month’s Mood Board, we'll visit the early Scandinavian period from late 18th century to the early 19th century. 

The late 1700s saw the ascension of Gustav III to the throne of Sweden and during his reign, Sweden experienced a transformation of its art and design fields. Gustav spent time as a young man at the sophisticated French Versailles court. When he returned to Sweden, he hired architects and artisans trained in the French style to update his court and residences. Soon, the small isolated country with a provincial look became a trendsetter for the rest of Scandinavia and Europe.

When craftsmen started to build French-styled furniture and accessories, they incorporated their own Scandinavian characteristics of simplicity and austerity; out of the merging of the two styles came the elegant and simple Scandinavian style. Much of the gilt and excessive sculptural motifs were removed or pared down - but the graceful bones of the French Louis XVI style remained. Another uniquely Scandinavian feature was the choice of cool color schemes, reflective of their long wintry season. Pale blues and greens, along with whites and soft grays, abound in many interiors.

In the first mood board above, French neoclassic motifs are applied to the chair, stool, and console table. Slender, tapering, fluted legs are a typical feature. The Gustavian stool, available from Laserow Antiques, is further decorated by a classical frieze filled with flowers and leaves. The chair was re-upholstered in a more contemporary fabric but its frame is decidedly French neoclassic. 

The Boserup halfmoon console table is a reproduction of a Gustavian table and is made by Country Swedish. The screen is a mid-nineteenth century piece available from Scandinavian Antiques & Living.  The porcelain jars, while English, are typical of accessories in early nineteenth century homes - available from Florian Papp.

In our second early Scandinavian mood board, we have a neoclassical Gustavian sofa from Laserow Antiques. The sofa is designed by J.E. Hoglander and is upholstered in a typical Swedish stripe fabric. The Valdemar cabinet is by Country Swedish and a reproduction of a simplified Gustavian neoclassical cabinet. It's decorated with a neoclassical cornice on top and dentil moulding below the cornice and in the middle. 

The curvaceous Gustavian clock is not French-inspired but uniquely Swedish. The longcase clock is made by royal clock maker Johan Lindquist, circa 1770, and is available from Lief Antiques. The rug is an Aubusson-inspired creation, and while not Scandinavian, was very popular in 18th and 19th century upper class homes, and complementary to neoclassical styles. 

The simple timeless elegance of early Scandinavian furniture makes it an attractive choice even for today's contemporary homes. A few well-chosen furniture pieces can mix well with other traditional neoclassical styles that are either French or English derived and voila! - you have classic beauty.


Interested in learning how to create mood boards? Take a look at Sheffield School's Complete Course in Interior Design. At Sheffield, you'll learn how to transform a space, create color schemes, and select furniture, lighting, and accessories.