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SCANDI N AV I A N I N VA SION WHY HAS THIS DESIGN MOVEMENT BECOME SO POPULAR & HOW DOES IT FIT INTO TODAY’S CULTURE?

GWEN HARRIS N0642953 BA (HONS) FASHION DESIGN (YEAR 1) DCCT10001 DESIGN, CULTURE & CONTEXT 1 201516 ANNA PIPER 2185 WORDS


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SCANDINAVIAN INVASION: WHY HAS THIS DESIGN MOVEMENT BECOME SO POPULAR & HOW DOES IT FIT INTO TODAY’S CULTURE?

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CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION

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MODERN NORDIC IDEALS

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THE APPEAL OF SCANDINAVIA

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SCANDINAVIA IN OUR SOCIETY

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CONCLUSION

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LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

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LIST OF CITATIONS

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

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Fig. 1 Example of Scandinavian fashion aesthetic (2015) by Lucy Williams in Williams 2015: online

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INTRO DUCTION Scandinavian culture has interested me ever since I first visited Iceland around eight years ago. There’s something refreshing about the stripped back, simple and functional way that Nordic people live, alongside their elegant and modern design aesthetic. Although it is not ‘new’ in fashion, the Scandinavian aesthetic of warm grey wools and crisp white basics has recently become hugely popular in the UK (see fig. 1). Swedish fashion houses COS, Acne Studios and Monki have become go-to brands for many of us, and wrapping up warm has never been more on trend. As well as affecting how we dress, Scandinavian design is present in many other aspects of our lives. We are hooked on the artful cinematography of the eerie ‘Nordic noir’ television thrillers ever since The Killing was released in 2011, and now seem to own more IKEA furniture than ever before. I’d like to explore why Scandinavian design has become so popular, and how the modern ideals of Nordic culture might fit into our postmodern society.

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MODERN NORDIC IDEALS Modern design is said to have an “emphasis on materials, techniques and processes” (TATE 2016: online) and is “associated with a belief in progress” (TATE 2016: online). With this in mind, one of the key characteristics of Scandinavian design is that, generally speaking, innovation and function take priority over form. Fig. 2 & 3 are images from a recent 66 North advertising campaign; a well established Icelandic brand that provide everyday outdoor clothing designed to deal with harsh weather conditions.

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Fig. 2 A 66 North advert featuring woman in yellow coat (2016) by 66 North 2016: online

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Fig. 3 A 66 North advert featuring woman in dark coat (2016) by 66 North 2016: online

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The woman in these images is not

location,

a young, attractive model such

clothes being advertised are most

as those we see in conventional

likely purpose built to deal with this

Western

She

environment. Both coats are made

is older and looks more natural,

from innovative, insulative fabrics

suggesting that 66 North are not

with quilted details to keep the

targeting a ‘glamorous’ audience

body warm. The fabrics are water

and instead design their clothes

and weather-proof so they do not

with an eye towards enhancing the

ruin in the rain or snow. The hood

function of the garments.

in fig. 3 is fur lined to stop snow

clothing

adverts.

In support of this idea, the images are set in a snowy and wet outdoor

informing

us

that

the

falling in the wearers face, and the fluorescent strips in fig. 2 are

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Fig. 4 A woman wearing modern Scandinavian street style (2016) by Søren Jepsen in Vogue 2016: online

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a safety feature, allowing the wearer to be seen in dark and dangerous conditions. 66 North’s innovative use of materials and processes, along with their strapline of “Keeping Iceland warm since 1926” (66 NORTH 2016: online) reinforces the fact that Scandinavian clothes are designed to keep people comfortable more than they are to look fashionable; a classic example of ‘function over form’ and a key principle of modernism. It would be narrow minded to assume the ideals of one brand are shared with the whole of Scandinavia, however Nordic street style only reinforces the suggestion that modernism exists in Scandinavian culture. The block colours and geometric patterns in fig. 4 along with the mechanical, chain inspired jewellery all hint towards a machine oriented, futuristic and modern culture. It seems ironic then that, in our postmodern society, Scandinavian fashion is becoming so popular when surely its ideals are the complete opposite of ours.

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Fig. 5 NORSBORG collection from IKEA (2016) by IKEA 2016: online

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THE APPEAL OF SCANDI N AV I A So why is it that Scandinavian culture is so appealing to us? There are, I believe, a number of answers to this question. As a society, we seem to love efficient, affordable

and

good

quality

products

(WILSON, J. 2011: online). For example, we love shopping at IKEA (fig. 5).

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Fig. 6 The plans for a Swedish flat-pack house (2016) by Scandinavian Homes in Scandinavian Homes 2016: online

The Swedish company provides us

everything into the car to take it home

with thousands of products clearly

the same day. It doesn’t matter that

laid out in a single store. Model

we have to actually construct the

rooms are displayed so we do not

products ourselves, because IKEA’s

even have to imagine how products

combination of quality, affordability

would look in our homes. Everything

and efficiency is unbeatable.

is sold flat-packed, allowing us to physically buy more and also fit

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CEO

of

IKEA,

Mikael

Ohlsson

producible,

cutting

edge,

‘one

says “We hate waste” (OHLSSON,

size fits all’ approach to housing

M., in WILSON, J. 2011: online),

described to be the “most efficient

suggesting that the company is

[building]

constantly trying to progress and

K. in MCGOWAN, E. 2012: online)

improve. Despite the fact that we are

ever. This reinforces the theory that

living in a postmodern society, one

Nordic design is so popular so due

theory is that we find Scandinavian

its efficiency.

process”

(MCCLOUD,

culture so appealing because of its efficient nature. This concept can be supported by

the

growing

popularity

of

Swedish ‘flat-pack’ homes in the UK (MCGOWAN, E. 2012: online). A house can be delivered in sections and then constructed as if it were flat-pack furniture (fig 6). The flat-pack home really is the ultimate modern luxury; a mass

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Fig. 7 A poster for The Bridge, Swedish ‘Nordic Noir’ television series (2011) by Sveriges Television in IMDB 2011: online

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Another area of Scandinavian culture

the idea of a society that does not

we seem to love in the UK is the

involve the influence of ‘low culture’

‘Nordic Noir’ thrillers, i.e. the eerie

celebrities

Scandinavian

one which focusses on “human life”

subtitled

television

dramas such as The Bridge (fig. 7), The Killing, Trapped etc. I

believe

prefer

a

(TATE 2016: online). Since the sudden popularity of Nordic Noir dramas, Scandinavia seems to

these series may stem from the

have developed a sex appeal, with

intimate look we get into the lives

numerous actors from these series

of characters who are living in a

becoming ‘sex icons’. I believe this

modern society. The UK rejected

has come from the fact that all of

modernism as it did not allow us to

these series have an underlying

have individual identities, so being

scandalous vibe. Ólafur Darri, lead

exposed to the personal scandals of

actor

these characters is intriguing to us.

idea describing his character as a

bleak

cinematography

the

instead

of

The

that

and

popularity

settings, and

the

eerie use

of

Scandinavian languages all give a sense of quietness and seriousness. This, combined with the use of actors

in

Trapped,

supports

this

“a quiet detective with an unknown past” (DARRI, Ó. In SEYMOUR, T. 2016: online). We are led to believe that Scandinavian life is mysterious and sexy, and so it appeals to us.

and actresses who are not celebrities in the UK, suggests that we like

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Another aspect of Scandinavian culture

Rachel Dougan, an expert on Scandinavian

that we have adopted in the UK is their

design, supports this saying:

interior design aesthetic. I feel it is so popular due to the fact that its simple, spacious approach is a welcome change from

the

complexities

of

postmodern

British design. For example, the Nordic interior shown in fig. 8 has been designed to maximise space and natural light. The large windows

Swedish

for

ruins the

design

clutter

has

no

because lines.

It

place clutter

begs

to

be left alone so that air and light can

circulate

through

it.

It’s

BUERGER,

M.

aspirational. (DOUGAN,

R.

in

2016: online)

fill the room with daylight. The furniture is minimal and neutral in colour. The walls are white and the ceilings are high; all promoting the feeling of spaciousness within the room.

The

word

ethereal

“aspirational” and

relaxing

suggests feel,

an

further

supporting the idea that we are looking for calming and simple design influences to escape our confusing and chaotic lives.

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Fig. 8 An example of Scandinavian interior design (2015) by Jonas Poulsen in ELLE 2015: online

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With this in mind, the UN recently published a

‘World

Happiness

Report’,

ranking

countries on their overall happiness. The happiest five countries were as follows: 1 Denmark 2 Norway 3 Switzerland 4 Netherlands 5 Sweden (SACHS, J. 2012: online) Interestingly, four of the five countries are Scandinavian. In a society obsessed with success and unrealistic expectations of beauty, a significant reason we might find Scandinavian culture so appealing is simply because we would like to be happier.

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SCANDI N AV I A IN OUR SOCIETY In contrast to Scandinavia’s modern values, we in Britain are generally thought to be living in a postmodern society. It therefore interests me that we are adopting Nordic culture in the UK, as surely the two cultures couldn’t be further apart.

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Fig. 9 UK Blogger from ‘Style and Wellbeing’ wearing an example of Scandinavian Chic fashion (2016) by Brittany Bathgate in Bathgate 2016: online

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An example of postmodernism at

combined with the high price point

its most extreme in British fashion

and unique nature of the shirt, she

design

is blurring the boundaries between

is

Vivienne

Westwood’s

Anarchy Shirt (fig. 10).

low and high culture.

It has a rough, chaotic feel to it

Westwood once said “My clothes

due to the wonky painted lines

have

and the messy slogans printed

identity. They have a character

over the top. The flashes of red

and a purpose” (WESTWOOD, V.

and black angrily stick out against

in WESTWOOD, V; KELLY, I 2014:

the pastel blue, creating a sense

38). This statement further rejects

of provocativeness and rebellion.

modernist

The text reads “anarchy is pretty”

was a movement that suppressed

creating

individual identity.

a

sense

of

parody

towards the British government. Westwood’s use of celebrity to model

her

clothing

suggests

an element of low culture, but

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a

story.

ideas

They

as

have

an

modernism


Fig. 10 Johnny Rotten wearing Anarchy Shirt (1976) by Vivienne Westwood in Guarnaccia 2015: 29

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Fig. 11 A blue Scandi chic outfit sold by ASOS White (2016) by ASOS White in ASOS 2016: online

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Fig. 12 A Scandi chic white shirt (2016) by ASOS White in ASOS 2016: online

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However, it is not as simple as saying that

clear elements of Scandinavian modern

Scandinavia is a modern society, and that

design. However, the jogger-style trouser

Britain is a postmodern society. As the

made from a bright blue, synthetic organza

Scandinavian aesthetic has become more

definitely possesses a sporty, British street

commercial in the UK, it has adapted.

wear feel. The idea of separates is practical,

We don’t need clothing that can cope with

below-freezing

temperatures

and

therefore our clothing does not have the same

functional

requirements

as

most

however the whole outfit is sheer; on a cold day in Norway, these clothes would barely keep the wearer warm. In Britain, however, wearing this outfit would be appropriate.

Scandinavian clothing. Instead, we have

Similarly, the shirt-dress in fig. 12 looks

merged the Nordic aesthetic with London’s

clean and modern due to the geometric lines,

classic street style, creating a style that’s

pure white colour and the smooth curves of

often referred to as ‘Scandinavian chic’ or

its silhouette. However, it has definitely not

‘Scandi chic’; a pastiche of Nordic design

been designed with Copenhagen in mind, as

(fig. 10).

trying to cycle in this long, tailed shirt would

In support of this, fig. 11 & 12 show clothing currently being sold by ASOS White; a UK based brand providing “Scandi chic” (ASOS 2016: online) clothing with “premium vibes” (ASOS 2016: online). Both outfits show clear elements of both British and Scandinavian design. The boxy, oversized silhouette of the top in fig. 11 and the geometric, blocky print show

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be impossible, supporting the idea that Scandi chic clothing is a pastiche of actual Scandinavian clothing.


Fig. 13 A Scandinavia inspired coat that I designed and made (2015) by Gwen Harris, my own work.

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Fig. 14 My ‘White Project’ garments that have a Scandinavian influence (2016) by

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Gwen Harris, my own work.


I would say my own work embodies Scandi chic values in that it is often inspired by Scandinavian aesthetic, but is more suited for casual wear in the UK. I used a grey wool felt for the coat in fig. 13. It has a simple, geometric silhouette and I have styled it with neutral complimenting tones, giving a Scandinavian feel. However, I set the photos in an urban environment, and styled the outfit with trainers to give a sense of British street culture. Similarly, in fig. 14, the boxy separates and the use of pure white give a minimal Scandinavian vibe; however I did not design these clothes to be particularly practical.

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During postmodernism’s most prominent

abundance of accessories; and also the use

era, it has been said that “everything was a

of an 11 year old male model to represent a

style statement” (V&A 2016: online). With this

womenswear collection.

in mind, it is possible that we might just be wearing modern Scandinavian clothing as a fashion statement. This would be terribly ironic considering modernity was shunned for suppressing individual identity.

CEO of Acne says the model ”encompasses the no-fear, no-limits, and no-boundaries outlook on fashion” (JOHANSSON, J. in MUKHAMETZYANOVA, M. 2015: online). The idea of no boundaries or limits is a very

Personally, I like to think that our society is

postmodern

beginning to balance the ideas of modernism

by definition was a reaction against the

and postmodernism, in that we enjoy the

boundaries

freedom and excitement of a world that

the

encourages individual identity, but we also

mass

want aspects of modernism in these chaotic

sell comes packaged in the same plain,

times.

pink box; suggesting as a brand they

A brand that embodies this idea perfectly is Acne Studios. Fig. 15 shows an advert from their AW15 campaign. The chunky, simple design of the coat and the block colour are ‘modern’ features. The model wears sunglasses, creating a lack of identity. However, there are also ‘postmodern’ design elements such as the decorative stitching detail, the use of unconventional fabric an

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viewpoint

of

clothing

postmodernity

modernism.

Acne

producible,

as

produce and

However, is

entirely

everything

they

encompass elements of both modernity and postmodernity.


Fig. 15 Acne Studios’ AW15 advertising campaign (2015) by Viviane Sassen in Acne 2016: online

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CONC LUSION Whether

we

have

adopted

Scandinavian

design because we are seeking to simplify our postmodern culture, or whether it is just another short term trend; it is an aesthetic that I love and will continue to use in my work.

I personally believe that the most captivating aspect of Scandinavian culture is how it has escaped the need to constantly change. Nordic countries have found something that works for them and they thrive off it.

So, as I prepare to return to Iceland for a two week adventure this Summer, I am excited to see what new inspiration I can find in their incredible, ethereal country.

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L I S T O F I L L U S T R AT I O N S IN ORDER OF APPEARANCE

Fig. 1 Example of Scandinavian fashion aesthetic (2015) by Lucy Williams in Williams 2015: online Fig. 2 A 66 North advert featuring woman in yellow coat (2016) by 66 North 2016: online Fig. 3 A 66 North advert featuring woman in dark coat (2016) by 66 North 2016: online Fig. 4 A woman wearing modern Scandinavian street style (2016) by Søren Jepsen in Vogue 2016: online Fig. 5 NORSBORG collection from IKEA (2016) by IKEA 2016: online Fig. 6 The plans for a Swedish flat-pack house (2016) by Scandinavian Homes in Scandinavian Homes 2016: online Fig. 7 A poster for The Bridge, Swedish ‘Nordic Noir’ television series (2011) by Sveriges Television in IMDB 2011: online Fig. 8 An example of Scandinavian interior design (2015) by Jonas Poulsen in ELLE 2015: online Fig. 9 An example of Scandinavian Chic fashion (2016) by Brittany Bathgate in Bathgate 2016: online Fig. 10 Johnny Rotten wearing Anarchy Shirt (1976) by Vivienne Westwood in Guarnaccia 2015: 29 Fig. 11 A blue Scandi chic outfit (2016) by ASOS White in ASOS 2016: online Fig. 12 A Scandi chic white shirt (2016) by ASOS White in ASOS 2016: online Fig. 13 A Scandinavia inspired coat that I designed and made (2015) by Gwen Harris, my own work. Fig. 14 My ‘White Project’ garments that have a Scandinavian influence (2016) by Gwen Harris, my own work. Fig. 15 Acne Studios’ AW15 advertising campaign (2015) by Viviane Sassen in Acne 2016: online Cover photo (2016) by Acne Studios in ACNE 2016: online

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L I S T O F C I TAT I O N S IN ORDER OF APPEARANCE

TATE 2016: online 66 NORTH 2016: online OHLSSON, M., in WILSON, J. 2011: online MCCLOUD, K. in MCGOWAN, E. 2012: online TATE 2016: online DARRI, Ó. In SEYMOUR, T. 2016: online DOUGAN, R. in BUERGER, M. 2016: online WESTWOOD, V. in WESTWOOD, V; KELLY, I 2014: 38 ASOS 2016: online V&A 2016: online JOHANSSON, J. in MUKHAMETZYANOVA, M. 2015: online SACHS, J. 2012: online

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BIBLIOGRAPHY IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER

BOOKS FIELL, C.; FIELL, P., 2005. Scandinavian Design. London: Taschen GUARNACCIA, M., 2015. Vivienne Westwood: Fashion Unfolds. London: Moleskine GUNDTOFT, D., 2013. Fashion Scandinavia: Contemporary Cool. London: Thames and Hudson Ltd KLEIN, Z., 2015. Cabin Porn. London: Particular Books WATSON, L., 2013. Vogue on Vivienne Westwood. London: Quadrille Publishing Ltd WESTWOOD, V.; KELLY, I., 2014. Vivienne Westwood [eBook]. London: Picador Available via https:// books.google.co.uk/books/about/Vivienne_Westwood.html?id=FV3nAwAAQBAJ&redir_esc=y [accessed 02/04/2016]

ARTICLES ANON., 2011. Isn’t it time you watched The Killing? Radio Times magazine, 19 November 2011, 26-29 BUERGER, M., 2016. Scandinavian design is more than just Ikea. Washington Post [online]. 27 January 2016. Available via www.washingtonpost.com [accessed: 02/04/2016] CONNOR, K., 2015. Danish It Girl Pernille Teisbaek Shares Her Guide to Scandinavian Style. Vogue [online]. 15 January 2015. Available via www.vogue.com [accessed: 02/04/2016] DOUGHTY, E., 2015. Scandi chic hits the high street. The Telegraph [online]. 24 October 2015. Available via www.telegraph.co.uk [accessed: 02/04/2016] DYMOKE, A., 2015. What make Scandinavian furniture style so popular? City AM [online]. 30 April 2015. Available via www.cityam.com [accessed: 02/04/2016] FURY, A., 2015. Acne Studios: Jonny Johansson has given the company’s clothing a sense of twisted boredom. Independent magazine [online]. 21 March 2015. Available via www.independent.co.uk [accessed: 02/04/2016] MCGOWAN, E., 2012. Absolutely prefabulous. The Daily Mail [online]. 24 July 2012. Available via www. dailymail.co.uk [accessed: 02/04/2016] MUKHAMETZYANOVA, M., 2015. Acne AW15 Campaign featuring Frasse Johansson. Wonderland [online]. 2 September 2015. Available via www.wonderlandmagazine.com [accessed: 02/04/2016] ORTON, K., 2013. Scandinavian Invasion. Dazed and Confused [online]. April 2013. Available via www. dazeddigital.com [accessed: 02/04/2016]

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SEYMOUR, T., 2016. He’s huge, he’s hairy – and he’s the hottest man in Iceland. The Guardian [online]. 24 February 2016. Available via www.theguardian.com [accessed: 02/04/2016] TREGGIDEN, K., 2015. Interiors: the new Scandi. The Guardian [online]. 11 April 2015. Available via www. theguardian.com [accessed: 02/04/2016] WILSON, J., 2011. The secret of IKEA’s success. Economist [online]. 26 February 2011. Available via www. economist.com [accessed: 02/04/2016]

ACADEMIC REPORTS SACHS, J., 2012. The World Happiness Report. Earth Institute. Colombia: Colombia University

WEBSITES 66 NORTH, 2016. Our Story [online]. Available at: https://www.66north.com [accessed: 02/04/2016] ASOS, 2016. ASOS White [online]. Available at: http://www.asos.com/women/a-to-z-of-brands/asos-white/ cat/pgecategory.aspx?cid=11761&wt.ac=ww%7cnav%7casosblack&via=top [accessed: 02/04/2016] BACK, 2016. About BACK [online]. Available at: http://annsofieback.com/about/back/ [accessed: 02/04/2016] ELLE, 2016. Scandinavian Interiors [online]. Available at: http://elledecorationcouk.wp.cdnds.net/tmp/wpro1403712645409238/2014/06/Jonas-Poulsen-1-Sept-13copy.jpg [accessed: 02/04/2016] IMDB, 2016. The Bridge [online]. Available at: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1733785/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1 [accessed: 02/04/2016] IMDB, 2016. The Killing [online]. Available at: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0826760/?ref_=tt_rec_tti [accessed: 02/04/2016] NORDIC STYLE MAGAZINE, 2016. [online] Available at: http://www.nordicstylemag.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/cbn-ss-006.jpg [accessed: 02/04/2016] SCANDINAVIAN HOMES, 2016. Products [online]. Available at: http://www.scandinavianhomes.com/house/ svartvik-u/ [accessed: 02/04/2016] SWEDISH HOUSES, 2016. Timber Framed Houses [online]. Available at: http://swedishhouses.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/cont9.jpg [accessed: 02/04/2016]

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TATE, 2016. Modernism [online]. Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/learn/online-resources/glossary/m/modernism [accessed: 02/04/2016] UNITED NATIONS SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT SOLUTIONS NETWORK, 2016. World Happiness Report. [online] Available at: http://unsdsn.org/resources/publications/world-happiness-report-2013/ [accessed: 02/04/2016] V&A, 2016. Modernism and nature [online]. Available at: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/m/modernism-and-nature/ [accessed: 02/04/2016] V&A, 2016. Postmodernism [online]. Available at: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/p/postmodernism/ [accessed: 02/04/2016] VOGUE, 2016. Street Style [online]. Available at: http://www.vogue.com/fashion/street-style/ [accessed: 02/04/2016]

BLOGS BATHGATE, B., 2016. Spring Forward. Style and Wellbeing [online blog]. 23 February 2016. Available at: http://www.styleandwellbeing.com/blog//vbr7ooa74eqgzoy6ks4lrv79nh1mbc [accessed: 02/04/2016] WILLIAMS, L., 2015. Acne Breakout. Fashion Me Now [online blog]. 30 January 2015. Available at: http:// www.fashionmenow.co.uk/2015/01/acne-breakout/ [accessed: 02/04/2016]

FILM & TV Art of Scandinavia: Once Upon a Time in Denmark, 2016. [TV Programme] BBC iPlayer, 21 March 2016 Art of Scandinavia: Democratic by Design, 2016. [TV Programme] BBC iPlayer, 28 March 2016 The Bridge, 2012. [TV Series] Sveriges Television (SVT) [Sweden] 21 April 2012 The Killing, 2007. [TV Series] BBC, 7 January 2007 Trapped, 2016. [TV Series] Dynamic Television [Global]. 13 February 2016

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Scandinavian Invasion  

Why has this design movement become so popular and how does it fit into today's culture?

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