There are good reasons why Scandinavian design is so loved.  Connecticut-based company, Eleish Van Breems tells us why this style reigns supreme with them. Plus, they’ll share how they’re doing things different than the likes of IKEA. 

Oh, and here’s a quick history lesson: Scandinavia isn’t just a single place, it’s several. Traditionally, the term refers to three northern European countries – Norway, Sweden and Denmark. 

What does a well-appointed Scandinavian designer room feel like?

If you have ever spent any amount of time in Scandinavian rooms, you will know that they are feel good spaces. Natural light is ample, nothing is too precious, and all feels welcoming. The secret to the aesthetic is to mix old and new while maintaining a clean and simple balance, using natural materials of enduring quality.

Elegant & Warm

Minimalism can be a cold construct, but in the hands of the Scandinavians it is elegant and warm. This is due to their use of mellow natural woods, bold textiles, metals, stone and leather. Historically, with the long winter nights and short summers, bringing light and warmth into the home was a necessity.  The Scandinavians still use mirrors, candles, glass, whitewashed floors and crystal chandeliers to create uplifting energy and light.  Bringing the outside in is a fundamental part of Scandinavian design as well as clean and uncluttered functionality.

People often associate Scandinavian design with IKEA. How is EVB different? 

We encompass a full scope of fine Scandinavian antique, midcentury and contemporary furniture and accessories. We also manufacture our own line of furniture in Sweden that is based on historic forms. Plus, we have been working with the same family-owned companies for decades. Our focus is on structural integrity, aesthetic values and supporting the tradition of Scandinavian craftsmanship.

Elegance of Purpose & Quality of Materials

What is so interesting about Scandinavian design is that the 18th century wooden oatmeal spoon carved by a farmer is as functionally designed and considered as a contemporary Swedish rug or table by a midcentury Danish master.  All convey an elegance of purpose and quality of materials that makes them stand alone as well as mix beautifully together. There is a long tradition in Scandinavia of good design being central to well-being and a higher quality of life for everyone.  

What is so fascinating is that even IKEA is beginning to move away from IKEA. It’s embracing smaller, well-made collections. The flat pack, mass produced, mega store model is something that founder Ingvar Kamprad’s heirs are moving away from. This is out of changing laws and environmental necessity. 

Which of your books would you recommend to someone new to the style?

Our latest book, “Reflections on Swedish Interiors,” has a wonderful compendium in the back called ‘The Elements of Swedish Style.’ We would recommend this one to anyone experimenting with the Swedish look in their own home.  There we compile 23 design elements and cover topics such as Warming Wood, Let There Be Light, Tone on Tone, Bold Color, Linen Meets Leather, Flora Suecia, Patina is Poetry, to name but a few. 

These elements may not be unique to Sweden, but when used in concert, they impart the basic substance and attitude of Swedish style. We invite you to delve into these elements and take the Swedish perspective. As they say in Sweden “Good design for everyone!” 

Rhonda Eleish & Edie van Breems bring their love of approachable Scandinavian design with its philosophy of balance and harmony to their custom design clients, as well as their EVB Home store and website.