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Chic Scandinavian design is at home in Oslo


Jennifer Barton ,

Renowned for its clean, natural style, it's no surprise that the Scandinavian design aesthetic has crept slowly into homes across the globe in recent years. Along with the buzzing creative scenes of Copenhagen and Stockholm, Oslo's is increasingly coming to the fore, producing elegant but simple, timeless interiors and homeware pieces that add a sense of calm and coll to a home without overpowering it.

'Norwegians are on top when it comes to home decoration,' explains a spokeswoman from Norway's premier interiors multi-store centre, House of Oslo. 'We redecorate our homes constantly and our homes represent who we are. Norwegians like to spend time at home and therefore home décor is essential. We have more up-and-coming designers now than ever before, and they are competing and on a level with the best internationally.'

At the forefront of trend-setting Scandinavian home furnishings since its foundation in 1925 is Danish brand Illums Bolighus, whose Norwegian base is at House of Oslo. Initially, the concept of the store was as revolutionary as the innovative items sold inside: a store where furniture and textiles interacted with art in a home environment. With everything from Eames chairs to Marimekko bedding and kitchen utensils, the store philosophy is about providing innovative pieces to suit the modern lifestyle and inject a dash of originality and verve into everyday life.

According to House of Oslo's spokeswoman, the Illums Bolighus store is the centre's biggest attraction. 'It has a broad spectrum of home décor and interior design,' she explains. 'At Illums Bolighus you will find all the big designers, both local and international: brands such as Vipp, Stelton, Georg Jensen, Wedgwood, Louis Poulsen, Kartell, Ralph Lauren, Lexington, Ilse Jacobsen and many more.' Local names on the ascent at House of Oslo include Catherine Kullberg Lighting, Ygg & Lyng and Wik & Walsøe, whose interiors and homewares are all inspired by the wild and beautiful Norwegian outdoors.

The use of natural materials is one of the characteristics of Scandinavian home décor style, with nature itself a starting point for many designer. Ygg & Lyng's Elin Louise Sveen explains that her rustic oak furnishings are 'inspired by the forest and its structure, variations and forms, but also Norwegian traditions.'

Ragnhild Wik of Wik & Walsøe agrees that respecting and capturing nature is key for Norwegian desginers. The brand has just added new tablewares to its Lys ('Light') series, which Wik says have been inspired by 'the sun and the moon reflecting its light in the pure white snow, and the irregular yet perfect patterns created by nature'.

Another Norwegian name informed by its surroundings is Slettvoll. Its popular collections of upholstered furniture, produced on Norway's west coast, are known for their 'simplicity and timelessness, expressed in a modern setting', explains Torill Sletvoll, the company's creative director of the founder. Mostly conceived by one of Norway's top interiors designers, Helene Forbes Hennie (who recently won the Andrew Martin International Designer of the Year Award), the collections also look to local surroundings such as deep fjords and majestic mountains as their starting points. While pops of colour tend to appear in seasonal spring and autumn collections, the company's timeless pieces have only hints of colour mixed with a base of grey, 'burnt' and natural.

Norwegian interiors designers don't just embrace the nature, the classic, and the simple; House of Oslo's spokeswoman explains that another hallmark of Norwegian home style is mixing upmarket pieces with the more affordable. 'It's a trend that the key elements in our homes are expensive items which we accessorise with smaller and less expensive homewares. Nature is a winner, with a lot of candlelight, mixed with crystal and elements of glamorous,' she says,

While Scandinavian style has been appropriated globally into home design, there are subtle differences between Norwegian interiors and the styles of Denmark or Sweden. In Norway, comfort over minimalism reigns supreme, because, as Sletvoll explains, Norwegians spend a lot of time in their homes, entertaining friends and gathering family in their home surroundings. 'Norwegians seem to appreciate quality and comfort, and they are looking for items with a genuine story.'

While Norwegian décor style is starting to move towards a more international-inspired future, the country's core interiors ethos of function, comfort and timeless appeal above all are what make Oslo's interiors and homewares so coveted, reminding us that there is truly no place like home.

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