The power of positive living

Home is where heart is. Or so goes a popular embroidery. But then what does the past decades of monochrome and near endless shades of gray tell tell us about our state of mind? Decades of calm and safe is coming to and end, both where world politics and decorating is concerned. Harmonious and understated just won’t cut it, the era of “Happy Design” has come to Scandinavia.

SGHR glass with berries

Celebrated by Elle Decoration UKs August issue, the term “Happy Design”, seems to apply to everything new at the moment. ED is calling it “a move towards bold, bright and brilliantly positive interiors”. Of course, this ode to joy is nothing new. Since the original age of Flower Power, the Nordics have seen waves of Country Style, Shabby Chic and Modern Glamour arrive and pass with various degrees of success. However, the general consensus has remained to stick with neutrals for investment pieces, and reserving colours for the odd cushion and select pieces of art.

The difference this time, is the extent of this bold embrace of colour. One may say it has crept up on Scandinavians, who have daringly painted white walls pale blue and dusty pink for a couple of years now. Until recently, colours were still paired with white, gray or black pieces of furniture. This shifted in 2017, when the blue velvet sofa suddenly became all the rage, followed by a bold green and even pink. Patterns from Italian Missoni have also seen a surge in popularity, initially bringing north colourful stripes to the odd towel and cushion, but now selling colourful pieces of furniture such as reclining chairs, carpets and even sofas.  I have previously written about the reemergence of coloured glassware, which is another addition of colour to the Nordic home.

Svenkst Tenn cushions displayed in Tokyo Tomorrowland shop

This strive for positivity is partly a nod to the 1970s and 80s. Another time of change and uncertainty. This time however, kitsch and disco glam are passé. The power of patterns are best utilised when applied sparingly, which seems to suit the Nordic temper. Instead of maximalism, this strive for happy interiors is about finding pieces that makes each of us feel bold and cheerful. Its about the bliss of rejecting the old tastemakers and making up our own mind.

An alternative explanation for the current tsunami of interior energy, is the expansion of social media into the home. Colourful images simply get more likes. We are all our own Marketing Managers and originality sells. If our lives are lived on Instagram, it is only natural our abodes should be snapped looking as bold and positive as our happy selves.

Jasper Conran for Wedgwood plates

Writing this, we are still in the midst of the hottest summer in memory. Will this southern tempered celebration of pattern and colour last through the Nordic winter? Or will we relapse to our safe selection of tasteful neutrals? Time will show, but I’m cheering for Team Happy!


Would you like to read more?

Coloured glass updated; finding the new “elegance”

Dine on wood; woodware for the modern table


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