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7 Sustainable Nordic Design Brands We Love - And This is Why!

Written by Annika Caldwell

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Posted on October 19 2018

There's no question why Scandinavian or Nordic design (interchangeable terms covering design from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden) is so appealing to many. When done correctly, this style creates the perfect balance between minimalism and feeling relaxed. It puts forth a calm-and-cozy vibe, but also challenges us to pay attention to how the products are made.

What are the key characteristics of Nordic home decor style? What does sustainable design really mean? Keep reading to find out!

lovi birds natural wood on shelf inspiration


The Basics of Nordic Design

It may be best to start with its purpose. The purpose of Nordic design is to improve daily life. That could mean through function or through visual pleasure or how to protect our environment through sustainable design. The principles of Nordic design are best summed up in the following adjectives:

• minimalism;

• simplicity;

• clean lines;

• natural;

• high quality materials;

• functionality;

• sustainability;

• affordability;

• timeless.

Nordic style is elegantly minimalistic yet warm and cozy through the use of natural textures and materials such as wood, linen, wool and soft calming colors. Pops of color are added through fun, yet functional accessories, home textiles, kitchenware and art. There are normally links between Nordic Design elements and nature, whether it is the subject matter, the materials or a combination of both!

Nordic design is intended to provide people with high quality, affordable items for the home that will last forever, serve a specific function, are visually pleasing and manufactured in such a way that our environment is not negatively impacted. Nordic design is also about democratic values; cooperation; common interests; and equality, including the belief that good design is not just for the wealthy few but should be accessible for all!

lapuan kankurit bedroom decor inspiration

What Exactly is Sustainable Design? 

It is environmentally conscious design, and the philosophy of designing objects with the principles of social, economic and ecological sustainability in mind. It is thoughtful design, connecting people with the natural environment. Natural lifestyle is already one of the values in the Nordic countries.

Sustainable design maximizes the use of durable; high quality; low impact; non-toxic; sustainably produced; recycled or upcycled; renewable materials; and energy-efficient manufacturing processes. It also aims to minimize "throw-away" consumption and culture. Circular economy is also a term used as part of the sustainable Nordic design, aiming to keep resources in use as long as possible which can be achieved through long-lasting conscientious design!

Sustainable Nordic Design Brands You Need to Know

So who are some of our favorite sustainable Nordic design brands that offer us these unique, wondrous and inspiring products that are sustainably designed and bring so much joy into our homes? Let's have a look!

1. AARIKKA: Eco-Friendly Jewelry and Home Decor

Aarikka is a family-owned Finnish company founded in 1954. Their designs are known for their crisp Nordic lines, round shapes, and wood materials. Aarikka believes that design’s most important task is to bring joy to people’s lives! Aarikka's simple, Nordic design combines joy with coziness. Finnish nature and the forest have always provided a foundation for Aarikka's designs. The products are primarily made from sustainably sourced wood and other natural material embodying one of the previously mentioned design principles – design and nature!

aarikka home decor pohjanpässi inspiration

Eco-friendliness and sustainability are of the utmost important to Aarikka. That’s why Aarikka chooses only the best wood for their raw materials. The light colors and beautiful surfaces of maple and birch mean they are the best suited for painting with bright colors. Pine on the other hand is suitable for products that seek to provide a warm atmosphere and strong surface patterns.

aarikka moomin little my earrings

The majority of their jewelry is manufactured by hand in Finnish homes by employees who work from home. This in turn reduces the carbon footprint caused by transportation. In contrast, their home products are assembled in Finnish employment centers that support employment and social inclusion. In addition to local manufacturing, their products’ eco-friendliness is also increased by avoiding the unnecessary use of packaging materials - favoring eco-friendly raw materials instead.

Handicraft skills are a valuable part of Finnish identity and culture. Aarikka continuously works to promote them by employing numerous Finnish craftsmen.

Shop Aarikka jewelry here.

2. TEEMU JÄRVI: Sustainable Wall Decor Inspired by Finnish Nature

Teemu Järvi is an artist and designer of many awards. He specializes in wilderness themes and his works derive from the artist's lifelong love of nature. A ceaseless explorer of Finnish forests and lakes, Järvi is familiar with wildlife through first-hand experience. He works with traditional tools, such as the reed pen, creating works of art that transport us from our hectic urban existence to the soothing calm of the primeval wilderness.

teemu järvi wolf print inspiration

Teemu Järvi's craftsmanship is intimate. Like a hunter-gatherer of old, he too has a deep connection with the tools and models he uses. His work focuses on the essential: the amazing and complex diversity found in nature, ever diminishing under the stress of our modern life.

teemu järvi hare plywood print inspiration

All his art work (paper and wood) is printed and manufactured in Finland in an environmentally friendly way using Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified materials. His process promotes environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial, and economically viable management of the world's forests. You can read more about FSC here.

Shop Teemu Järvi wall art

3. LOVI: Unique Wooden Decorations from the Forests of Finland 

Lovi is a family-run company based in Northern Finland. It produces flat packed, 3D figures from wood, designed and patented by Anne Paso. All the products are 100% made in Finland from the highest Finnish quality birch plywood, certified by the Program for the Endorsement of the Forest Certification (PEFC). The PEFC is the world's largest forest certification system seeking to transform the way forests are managed globally – and locally - to ensure that all of us can enjoy the environmental, social and economic benefits that forests offer.

lovi birds inspiration

Only wood from certified forests in Finland is used for Lovi products. PEFC certified forests are re-planted after felling. Well-managed northern forests grow at a rate faster than that of the felling. Lovi donates money every year to re-planting schemes in areas of the world affected by drought, erosion and floods. The planting is done in cooperation with local people, always taking local circumstances and tree species into consideration. Since 2009 Lovi has planted 40,000 trees, approx. 5,000 trees per year.

Shop Lovi products and other home decor.

4. KAUNISTE: Kitchen Towels and Accessories made from Natural Materials 

Ten years ago, Kauniste launched its first collection of screen-printed linen kitchen towels at the Helsinki Design Week. The idea behind the collection was to combine young Nordic illustrator's art prints into an everyday useful item - the kitchen towel. This is still the essence of Kauniste products today, emphasizing high-quality manufacturing and natural materials. Their signature linen-cotton blend is made in Europe from the spinning of the yarn to printing and sawing of the final product. Their fabric is printed is with non-toxic inks in Finland and follows OEKO-TEX standards to ensure that there will be no harmful chemical residues on the textiles.

kauniste textiles inspiration

Kauniste has moved far beyond the kitchen towel, offering beautiful fabric patterns for pillows, blankets, wool scarves, tote bags and even socks!

Shop Kauniste textiles here.

5. LAPUAN KANKURIT: Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Linen Products

Lapuan Kankurit is a family business and opened its first textile weaving mill in 1917 in Lapua, Finland. It values sustainable development, environmentally friendly production processes and pure natural materials. They (and we) believe well-maintained, high-quality textiles will make you happy for decades-which means you can also leave a lasting inheritance for future generations! Products made by Lapuan Kankurit weave a tale of genuine values, sustainable consumption and respect for nature. All Lapuan Kankurit linen textiles are woven in Finland.

lapuan kankurit duo towel inspiration

Linen is one of the most ecological materials and Lapuan Kankurit products are "Masters of Linen" certified. This is a mark of excellence for 100% traceable European linen from field to yarn to fabric, guaranteeing a sustainable, low carbon footprint and eco-friendly production. Shop Lapuan Kankurit textiles here.

lapuan kankurit usva tablecloth


6. KALEVALA JEWELRY: Handmade Jewelry from Recycled Silver and Gold

Kalevala Jewelry was founded in 1937 by women and continue to be managed and led by women. Every piece tells a story, and as an owner of Kalevala Jewelry, you will also become a part of the story yourself. All Kalevala Jewelry products are designed and manufactured in Finland, favoring local raw materials. Sustainability and environmentally friend and transparent production are core values. Kalevala Jewelry uses recycled silver and gold. Waster water from the production is also collected and treated. All the jewelry is handmade in Finland and a small story booklet is delivered with every piece.

Shop Kalevala Jewelry here.

kalevala jewelry moon goddess inspiration


7. AAPISTE: Handprinted Textiles from Durable and Hypoallergenic Materials

Aapiste is a small textile brand created by textile designer Riikka Kaartilanmaki. Her stunning textiles are hand printed using a sustainable traditional silk screen technique with non-toxic water-based printing inks. Aapiste also uses eco-friendly linen which has a beautiful rough nature and a dim sheen. Linen is a durable, hypoallergenic and timeless material, which dries fast and its qualities improve with time. The Aapiste Collection is designed and manufactured in Finland. Riikka lives and works in the quiet countryside of Eastern Finland. There she is surrounded by the forest, small islands and the largest lake in Finland-Lake Saimaa. In the forest, at home and during her travels, Riikka spots elements to play with and build patterns from. Her work combines influences from the fresh simplicity of the nature around her and her visual memories of classic Finnish textiles. Shop Aapiste textiles here.

Aapiste MUSTIKKAKUKKO Kitchen Towel inspiration

As we grow we continue to add more sustainable brands into our collection. You can read more about all of our Nordic design brands and designers here, that include progressive design brands and works of some of the most iconic designers such as Alvar Aalto, Aino Aalto, Kaj Franck, Tapio Wirkkala, Birger Kaipiainen and Timo Sarpaneva to name a few!

There is a story behind everything design at NØRDIK! What is your design story?

#NordicDesign #ScandinavianDesign #SustainableDesign

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