Since opening our bookshop in 2009 we have pushed the Scandinavian design cause through the architecture and interiors books we choose to sell. It’s not that we don’t appreciate the beautiful tomes dedicated to French châteaus, English manor houses, New York apartments or Moroccan riads. But the Scandinavian aesthetic – clean lines, extensive use of natural materials, big windows, white and grey colour palettes, sincere connections with landscape, eco-friendly and energy-conscious buildings – is particularly suited to the Melbourne lifestyle.
As Mirkku Kullberg, of Finnish furniture design company Artek, observes in Northern Delights: Scandinavian Homes, Interiors and Design: “Simple and easy things are coming back. I think there is a great momentum for Scandinavian design.’’
Produced by respected German arts book publisher Gestalten, its layout and editorial intent remind us why books as objects have a very bright future. No electronic reading device could possibly compete.
“Northern Delights is all about the calm, reduced, nature-related, and well-crafted lifestyle,’’ author and style blogger Emma Fexeus (www.emmas.blogg.se) explains in her introduction. She adds that a commitment to quality “runs through the entire society up here in the north. Everything from fashion to food is viewed through the same lens, where making something functional into something beautiful is always the main goal’’.
Light – natural and man-made; stone; wood, especially warmer woods such as birch and oak; garden; flowers; white walls; light-coloured furniture; candles; practical pieces of furniture that are also objects of art.
“I guess I like a certain calmness or even melancholy in a space,’’ says Helsinki interior designer Joanna Laajisto, who is profiled in this book. “Maybe that is a Scandinavian, or more specifically Finnish, quality. We are a quite melancholic people.’’
Furniture makers are also acknowledged as part of the Scandi design ecology. The Plank Sofa, the Swing VIP lamp, the Chieftain Chair and Nina Bruun’s Halo Lamp are among those featured in this book.
We urge anyone who is about to embark on building, renovating or redecorating their home to consider the messages of Northern Delights in their southern hemisphere space. As Fexeus writes: “The days of oblivious consumerism are over, and sustainability has become a key word . . . Scandinavian design, with its values of good craftsmanship, high quality, and natural materials fits perfectly with this more conscious way of living. It makes any place feel like home."
Northern Delights: Scandinavian Homes, Interiors and Design, edited by Emma Fexeus, Sven Ehmann and Robert Klanten
By Megan Morton, Jason Busch and Penny Shek
$49.95 (Thames and Hudson)
Stylist Megan Morton’s latest book focuses on children’s rooms, and the kids who inhabit them. Her introduction includes some sensible advice (“If they are past the age of six, don’t throw their things out after having three coffees during the school holidays. It’s really unfair”), while the homes she visits and the bedrooms she features will offer younger families a host of ideas on how to decorate in practical, colourful, playful and inspiring ways.
By Selina Lake
$29.95 (Ryland, Peters and Small)
The style world’s passion for bright colours has unleashed a flood of decorating books that tell us it’s OK to mix the hot-pink velvet sofa with the lime-green timber coffee table. But what’s the theme? It’s not enough to hit the flea markets then throw together a rainbow collection of furniture and hope they get along. If your “thing’’ is unusual lampshades, or vintage floral fabrics, or a prized Indian candlestick collection, this book will get you thinking about how to bring it together with harmony.
His Workrooms, His World By Mary Blume
While fans of contemporary designers may disagree, we would suggest the most exciting advances in fashion occurred in the first half of the 20th century, led by Cristobal Balenciaga, the Basque-born son of a fisherman and a seamstress. From when he set up his first shop in Paris in 1937 until his death in 1972, Balenciaga’s courage and creativity ensured his status as one of the world’s most exciting designers. In her new book, former International Herald Tribune Paris columnist Mary Blume honours his contribution.
By Martin Ursell
$44.99 (Crowood Press)
Artists, designers and would-be book illustrators, we urge you to discover the treasure of ideas in this book. Award-winning British illustrator and academic Martin Ursell walks readers through the steps required to beautiful images that will connect with children. From the idea and concept stage, to plot and character development, selecting materials, starting sketchbooks, to the moment of contacting a publisher, Ursell proves an inspiring mentor. We particularly recommend this worthy book to VCE art students.