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Cracking the Nordic code

From 'lagom' dcor to 'sisu' shelf-help, these are the new Scandinavian buzzwords you need to know

Photo: Instagram@lagomhome
Photo: Instagram@lagomhome

Scandinavia is having a moment, or, rather, continuing to have a moment. Hygge morphed into lykke before one had a chance to grasp its pronunciation, fika coffee breaks are now a favoured lifestyle choice, and new Nordic imports continue to inform the zeitgeist at a rapid pace. Update your Scandinavian glossary with this succinct list of trends, labels and names to know.


The Swedish word for “not too little, not too much" has translated into a handy life philosophy and a décor moodboard. According to Pinterest’s Home report 2018, searches for the word lagom on the website spiked by 905% over the past year. Somewhere between stark minimalism and snug layering lies the precise comfort and functionality of lagom. Simple ways to work the trend into your home: Prioritize soothing neutral shades like beige, grey and white, make room for potted herbs, stick to upcycled furniture, design tech-free corners, and shop consciously with the “one in one out rule".

Organic minimalism

Swedish jewellery designer Sara Robertsson’s fluid designs are inspired by the “organic minimalism" inherent in nature and fabrics. Having originally trained in fashion, the designer applies her lessons from womenswear to “drape" thin sheets of metal and shape them into patterns. The result—sinuous ribbon-like earrings, pendants, rings and slim bangles coveted by every Scandinavian, or Scandi, style influencer worth her salt. Since she founded the label in 2015, Robertsson’s designs have found a place in the inventories of retailers like Browns and Farfetch, among others. If you can buy just one thing, get your hands on her iconic Flounce earrings.

Cuddle coats

These fuzzy fur and shearling coats in bright hues are signature Saks Potts designs. The Copenhagen-based label, founded by Barbara Potts and Catherine Saks in 2013, has grown swiftly to be a favourite among trendsetters at home and abroad. Earlier this year, the label hosted its first showcase in New York, and their coats, in powdery hues and pop patterns, have been dubbed the “It" jackets of Fall/Winter 2018. Thanks to Instagram’s far-reaching influences, fans of the label are spread around the world, including models Gigi Hadid and Adwoa Aboah, blogger Leandra Medine, and an army of street-style stars.

The Scandi Sense Diet

Developed by Danish nutritionist Suzy Wengel, Scandi Sense is being called the simplest diet of all time. You’re required to give up nothing—not even sugar or alcohol—and the only measuring device you need is your fist. In her new book The Scandi Sense Diet, Wengel prescribes four handfuls of food per meal: a handful of protein and carbohydrates, two handfuls of vegetables, plus a spoonful of fat. On the days you crave dessert or alcohol, just cut out the carb portion from your daytime meals. It’s the goodness of conscious eating minus the tortuous math of calorie counters.

Scandi It-girls

Move over Parisian chic—the new style icons to follow are on the streets of Stockholm and Copenhagen. Combining quintessentially Scandinavian minimalism with bright colours and statement accents, these new fashion influencers are finding fans and collaborators across the shores. The names to know? Leading the swish set is stylist and author Pernille Teisbaek (@pernilleteisbaek on Instagram). Model Darja Barannik (@darjabarannik), self-professed “style schizo" Tine Andrea (@tineandreaa), TV host Janka Polliani (@polliani), and writer Celine Aagaard (@celineaagard_) also offer daily Nordic-cool style lessons to each of their 100,000 plus followers.


Over the past year, a slew of Scandinavian buzzwords have vied for the covetable (and marketable) title of “the new hygge". Lykke presented a Danish model of happiness, dostadning (or death cleaning in Swedish) prescribed an unsentimental view of mortality, and the Dutch philosophy of niksen made a strong case for doing nothing. Now, in Sisu: The Finnish Art Of Courage, the region’s latest shelf-help offering, Joanna Nylund outlines how living with grit, tenacity and resilience informs the country’s domination on the world happiness index charts. Some ways to work sisu into your life: Schedule alone time, think
low-key and think know-how.


A young tribe of female artists has emerged as the new flag-bearers of Scandipop (taking over from ABBA, Ace of Base, Roxette, and, more recently, MØ, Lykke Li, Tove Lo). Scandipop’s next generation features standout voices like 21-year-old Sigrid, best known for her anthemic single Don’t Kill My Vibe, and the wistful cover of Leonard Cohen’s Everybody Knows, which was used as a soundtrack for Justice League. Sigrid also won the 2018 BBC Music Sound poll (previous winners include Adele, Sam Smith and Ellie Goulding). Also making an entry on the international charts with her powerhouse vocals and highlighter-green hair is 16-year-old Finnish pop-star Alma.


Growing in remote regions and harsh winter conditions, this golden-orange berry is the rising superstar of skincare. The tart fruit that is also sometimes called Nordic berry, or the “superfood of the Arctic", is powered with vitamin C and omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, all of which make it a potent ingredient for achieving a brighter complexion and supple skin. Little wonder then that a host of brands are adding a dose of cloudberry to their products. Lumene, a Finnish beauty brand, offers Valo, a line of cloudberry-based products, while Eleni & Chris, a Norwegian label founded in 2015, uses the fruit to formulate anti-ageing products.

Nordic noir

Despite their negligible crime rates and robust happiness levels, the Nordic countries continue to produce some of the darkest, bleakest crime fiction. Fresh on the bookshelves is Scandi noir giant Jo Nesbø’s new spin on Shakespeare’s Macbeth, though it has received tepid reviews. But the mind-bending Joona Linna series by Lars Kepler (a pseudonym used by the Swedish couple Alexandra Coelho Ahndoril and Alexander Ahndoril) is entering the best-seller charts with its latest instalment, The Sandman. The pacy thriller features an imprisoned but formidable serial killer, and has earned winning comparisons to Hannibal Lecter.

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