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Skandinavisk: Telling the story of Scandinavia, One Fragrance at A Time



If you wander through the pretty back streets of central Copenhagen, you might just come across a secret courtyard nestled between the centuries old golden yellow buildings where bikes lie propped up against the wall and an outdoor table awaits the spring sunshine. This is where I found myself last Thursday, visiting Skandinavisk, with whom I've struck up a wonderful partnership with this year! Inside minimalist furnishings, white washed walls, a light wood pine floor and fresh coffee awaited. It felt a million miles form the hustle and bustle of Copenhagen's main shopping fair, a few hundred metres away. But this is something at which Skandinavisk is immensely skilled: transporting you to another world. Fill your senses with a Skandinavisk home or body fragrance and you'll find yourself drifting off to a fjord in Norway, the shores of the Baltic or a cosy Danish cottage with the nostalgic aroma of bread rising in the oven. I caught up with co-founder and fellow Brit Shaun Russell to learn about storytelling, fragrance, the Scandinavian passion for nature and candlelight, and life in Denmark's capital city.





I'm pretty envious of your studio, how did you find it?!
We moved in last May - it's really starting to feel like home now. It's owned by Rolf - a film photographer who has had the building for over 40 years. When we walked in, it immediately felt right. It was all white washed with a beautiful light wood floor. Having sat at my kitchen table and desk hopped for five years,  I couldn't imagine a better place to work!

If you move out, let me know and I'll move in!

Marketing & PR assistant Cecile Lind Christiansen in the Skandinavisk studio in Copenhagen

You and I share the same passion for Scandinavia - what do you feel sets this region apart?
As a Brit who's lived in Scandinavia since 2001, including six years in Sweden and more than twelve years in Denmark and working in various Nordic roles, I had unconsciously been gaining a broad depth of knowledge about this region. Then, after about ten years I had a eureka moment where I felt like I finally felt like I fully understood what made Scandinavia so different, so special and a role model for the rest of the world. There are of course differences between the Scandinavian countries, but what I find interesting are the similarities: their deep respect towards nature, finding happiness in the everyday as well as strong values of trust and equality. Scandinavians are good at making life better for everyone. It's no coincidence that the Scandinavian countries consistently come top of the world in happiness surveys: and I believe a more Scandinavian approach to life, makes life better for all. There is something deep, substantial and beneficial we can learn from them. I wanted to find a way to tell the story in a simple way.


How did you find a way to tell your story?
I was searching for a symbol or canvas, a representative element for Scandinavia and it dawned on me that I had been sitting in front of it for the past ten years: the candle. It's the candles on almost every table, the candle that my Danish wife lights at breakfast time, it's the flickering flame in every restaurant or gathering, and it's enjoyed all year round.

My daughter even enjoyed a candlelight breakfast at her nursery, it always looked so calm! 



Why do you think candles are so important to Scandinavians?
Candles are the first catalyst for hygge or mys (essentially cosiness) - they create the atmosphere. Of course, the people make the atmosphere, but candlelight softens the moment, brings people together and, I think, plays a part in their desire to seek comfort and happiness in the everyday. I think it stems back to geography: the lack of sunlight and the need for warmth in the winter months. Gathering together around a fire is something people have done for centuries - but in Scandinavia it has never gone away. The Scandinavians burn more wax than any other nations on earth, it's a very important part of everyday life! 


Complete collection

What are the key elements you use to tell your story? 
Through Skandinavisk we tell stories from Scandinavia using fragrance, design, and language.


What role does fragrance play? 
If you put fragrance into a flame, you can tell richer stories, different stories. You can transport people to a Swedish boreal forest, an island in the Baltic or a Copenhagen rose garden. Norwegian fjord land, for example, is the most fertile soil in Norway. It's full of orchards and where apples, pears, plums, cherries and all kinds of berries are harvested. By creating a fragrance that reflects this, you can take people on a journey to different places across Scandinavia.


The Escapes Collection

How would you describe the Scandinavian relationship to nature?
Scandinavia is a story of contrasts. You get vast, sparsely populated landscapes and extreme weather: short dramatic springs, endless sunlight in the summer, and almost zero sunlight with temperatures well below zero in winter. As a result, exposure to nature for Scandinavians is so significant and I think they are humbled by its dominance. I think in many other parts of the world people tend to lose the relationship with nature over time, certainly in more developed, industrial regions. Scandinavia is a large land mass extending way North well into the Arctic circle. A lot of the time it's just you and the elements in all their primitive glory, surrounded by forests, lakes, streams or the sea. I believe this has shaped the mindset of Scandinavians. They embrace nature, and they adapt to nature rather than forcing nature to adapt to them. It's something the world really needs to learn from.



How do you develop an atmospheric scent that's not related to nature?
Hygge is a good example - it's a Danish word that means a lot of different things to different people; no one really knows what it smells like it but they all know what it feels like. What's important is that we add notes that are reflective of simple, everyday pleasures - a cup of tea with a friend, baking bread, strawberries, rose petals, picking wild mint, minor everyday things that you associate with feeling good. This is how we deconstruct a fragrance.





Hygge (cosiness) scented candle

I'm a big fan of your packaging /design language - it's very distinctive. What was the thought process behind it?
I wanted to do a few things that I felt weren't currently in the scandinavian design gene. Historically Scandinavian design is pared back, monochromatic and understated and I wanted to add more colour. Colour plays an important role in the storytelling. We look for hues that are true to the region - sometimes found in nature, sometimes connected to a feeling. We don't always get it right, but I think our colour palette is quite distinctive because it reflects the chapter that it represents e.g. the dark blue sea of (HAV), the soft pink-red of the berry harvest (BÆR), the soft pastel, tranquility of RO - meaning peacefulness.


What role does the name of each product play?
Scandinavian brands usually use English to reach out to the rest of the world. We wanted to celebrate the local languages and find words that represented the stories we wanted to tell. If it's a story about the forest - and Sweden is 70% forested while Denmark is only 12% forested. - we'll use the Swedish word. If it's a story about cosiness, hygge directs itself towards the Danes and the Norwegian fjords are the ones that everyone admires and draws breath from. So sometimes the words are local - sometimes they span all languages. It's part of how we want to be authentic in everything we do. 



SKOG reflects the morning mist rising from spruce and pine needles, of woodland lily of the valley musk and aged leather - scents associated with the Swedish boreal forest.  

I also like the distinctive pattern - how does this contribute to the story?
The pattern is made up of a collection of symbols, each symbol represents a chapter. The symbols are part of the story and for each chapter, one symbol will be elevated - evergreen forests, maritime history, snowflake, happiness or love, flags, unusual symbols in the alphabet. The pattern is a graphic way of telling the story of Scandinavia.



LYKKE (Danish word for 'happiness) scented candle

How do you decide which elements from Scandinavia to elevate? 
We start by identifying an aspect of the region which we consider precious to the inhabitants and unique and exotic to the outside world, based on our experience of living here.



HAV (distant shores), launching in Feb / March

Do you have a favourite fragrance?
I have a couple of favourites - ØY (solitary island) which we're burning in the office today and is one of our best sellers. We've also just refreshed the HAV (distant shores) fragrance which is launching this spring. And ROSENHAVE a special one which was a reflection of my wife's rose garden, where she collects and grows more than 120 varieties.


Hand cream from the best selling ØY (Island Solitude) collection

Last year saw the launch of your luxurious hand and body care products, what's next for Skandinavisk?
We have a new edition of HAV (meaning 'sea') coming out in February / March in all variants: candle, diffuser, hand cream, washes and lotion, a luxuriant new body cream, and a flaxseed body scrub from Finland. It's the first time we have reinvented an existing theme while also launching it in more than ten product categories. It's a complete fragrance collection, and we're very excited about it!


Where can we get our hands on items from Skandinavisk?
The complete range is available from our online shop and is the first place for news (we ship to most European countries within one to three days). We can also be found in some of the world's leading retailers including Illums Bolighus, Selfridges, Liberty, KaDeWe, Isetan. A selection of our largest retailers can be found here.



In short:
Secret Copenhagen tip: The Carlsberg pub
Favourite neighbourhood: Frederiksberg and Vesterbro
Favourite restaurant: Granola (popular for brunch but I think it's better for supper!)
Escape: The pure tranquility of a Swedish forest (and hop into a lake to appreciate the amazing silkiness of the water!)
Key to a successful business: Persistence

Thank you so much to the Skandianvisk team for inviting me to their studio for the day!

Incidentally, I've been burning ØYwhile writing this piece, as you know, I love the idea of island solitary, and it truly smells divine!

Is there a fragrance you've got your eye on?!

Niki


// Photography: 1-3 and the final shot Niki Brantmark  / 4+ courtesy of Skandinavisk

//This post is brought to you in collaboration with Skandinaviask, for whom I am a very lucky and proud ambassador! All questions are my own and I only ever work with brands I absolutely love and think you will too! Thank you for supporting businesses that make My Scandinavian Home possible. 

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Holiday Gift Tip: 20% off at TRIWA!

Ever since my Nikki Watch give-away, people have been asking about a TRIWA discount code - well, your wish is my command friends! The Swedish timepiece brand contacted me from their (very cool) atelier in Stockholm to offer you all 20% off up until Christmas Day (type in the code NIKI20 at checkout)! I gift wrapped this Ivory Nikki watch this morning - it's a Christmas present for a friend (who shall remain anonymous as I don't want to give the game away - shhhhhh!). Luckily I have one myself too or I'd have found it impossible to give it away, isn't it pretty?! 


The Nikki collection consists of three watches with different designs: Ivory NikkiGleam Nikki and Smoky Nikki - do you have a favourite?!




I also love their watches with organic leather straps (crafted by the Swedish tannery in Tärnsjö). The Rose Svalan is my wardrobe staple - it goes with everything!


It looks like 2019 could be one very punctual (and stylish)year thanks to TRIWA! What do you reckon?

TRIWA ship worldwide. The 20% discount code NIKI20 is valid until 25th December, 2018. 

Niki


This post is brought to you in collaboration with TRIWA. All words are my own and I am an extremely proud ambassador for this wonderful Swedish brand! 

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Feeling the Hygge: A Toasty Guide To Wood Burning Stoves

 This is a sponsored post in partnership with Arada stoves. All opinions and words are my own. 


Who doesn't love the crackle of a log fire and that toasty feeling you get from being tucked up indoors as the rain lashes at the windows? Although summer is still in the air, Autumn is just around the corner (dare I say it!) - so if you're looking to get that hygge vibe down before the big chill arrives, now is the time to install a wood burning stove. But where to start? Here's my guide to get you started.


Let's get down to the nitty gritty.

Why a wood burning stove?
Those who own one will tell you they're so much more than a black steel box. As Arada puts it, a word burning stove is"a living breathing thing, sparking passion in those who own it. The rituals of feeding and caring for it become part of your day. The scent and sound of it become part of your home. The glow becomes your companion."

Oh, and they're also heat efficient, cosy and make a pretty cool focal point when not in action too!


What do I need to do to install one? 
If your house isn't listed and you have a working chimney or flue your gaff is all prepped for the installation of a wood burner. If not, you'll need planning permission for an external chimney (bit of a faff but sooo worth it!). Verified wood burning stove companies such as Arada will do the rest.   

But there are so many to choose from?!
Since the stove will become the heart of your home, it's important to pick a style to suit your lifestyle and setting.

Will I feel the heat?!
The whole point of the burner is obvs the heat. So, before we get carried away with the design (who, me?!), it's important to think about how much heat you're looking to get out of your stove. The insulation in our house is so good that a fireplace emitting too much heat would have us 'glowing' akin to a session at the local sauna. We'd therefore totally need something with a lower heat output. The London house I grew up in as a child, on the other hand, was so cold I used to sleep with a hat on (I kid you not!) and we could totally have done with a wood burner designed to heat an entire room (and more!). Read more about finding the right output for your space here.

OK, now for the fun part
The design. When it comes to stoves I love a bit of authenticity. Choose between freestanding classic, contemporary and hardworking heating stoves and designs that are ideal for an inglenook fireplace or for an empty hearth, inset stoves designed to slot into a traditional British fireplace and cassette stoves which can be recessed into the wall for a sleeker finish.


Does it have to be black?! 
It is possible to go for something a little bolder should your heart desire it (hey, you may have noticed I've been going down the root of colour lately, so who knows what might happen next! OK. Yes. I'd probably go for black!).  But for those of you a little less colour shy, Arada offers a choice of seven colours:

Gas or wood / solid fuel?
Tricky one. The beauty of gas is that it's hassle free, there's less cleaning involved, and your fire can reach the desired heat quickly - and be more easily regulated. Plus gas fires have come such a long way, they often look like the real deal too. Having said that, boy/girl scout types might be disappointed about the lack of required probing, the crackling sound and scent of burning wood. The decision is yours!


Keeping it clean! 
Fuel has come a long way since the days of coal (cue black smoke belching out of chimneys across London!), but there's still a lot we can do to keep our fireside read a little more eco-friendly. A new clean burning stove from Arada will produce 90% fewer emissions than an open fire and 84% less than that of a stove produced 10 years ago). And once our stove is installed we can also take other actions too. There's a great guide here

What do you reckon? Could this be the year you install a wood burning stove? I'm incredibly tempted...

Find out more about Arada stoves here and check out their FAQ's for any burning (sorry!) questions.

Here's to chilly summer evenings and a toasty Autumn!

Warm wishes,

Niki

Pictures 1 & 2  feature the i600 Slimline Freestanding stove
Pictures 3 feature the Ecoburn Plus 5 Widescreen
Pictures 4, 5, 6 feature the Farringdon Catalyst Eco Wood Burner

This post is is sponsored by Arada stoves. All words are my own and I only ever work with brands I love and think you will too. Thank you for supporting the brands that make My Scandinavian Home possible. 

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Giving My Sister's Guest Room the Scandi Treatment

Paid partnership with Decology (all words are my own):
 

Do you find some rooms just seem to fall into place and you can puzzle over others for years and no matter what you do, it just doesn't feel right? I can be so indecisive that in the same time I've been obsessing over small details of my hallway, my sister Cas has managed to dig out an entire basement (obviously not with her own bare hands!) beneath her South West London townhouse and kit it out down to the door knobs. I'm in awe! But she has come unstuck with one space: the guest room. Admittedly, it's a tricky one. It's situated at the back of the basement and only gets a very small amount of natural light (down a light shaft). I promised to help create a warm and inviting room (considering I'm often the guest in question it was in my best interest!). Plus I'd been waiting for an opportunity to test out Decology - a new online interior design service.



Decology offers two different online interior design services. 'Studio light' is free and provides you with 100+ designer creations organised by style or room. You can visualise them by adding them to a standard 3D model of your space, edit away and chat with a Decology designer if required - and then shop the look!

'Studio Plus' is the whole shebang and comes at a fee. It allows you to upload info about your room  along with pictures showing the look you love and a floor plan (it doesn't matter how rough - it can even be sketched on the back of a napkin) - as  long as there's no ketchup in the way, the professional interior designers can use it to create an actual 3D version of your room as well as a room scheme for you to play around with to your heart's content.  Once you're happy with the space, you'll receive a rendering of the design and get access to the personal shopping concierge.

I decided to give Studio Plus a whirl:

The brief
 
Cas was looking for a Scandi style (can you tell we're sisters?!), light, de-cluttered room with a couple of style statement pieces thrown in (and knowing her husband, the space should be highly practical too!) - I kept this in mind during the Studio Plus survey.




I also uploaded a few pictures which Cas snapped with her iPhone. As you can see, the room is a blank canvas, begging for a little TLC!

 

2. Room Schemes
Once the designers had read through my brief, they put together two room schemes for us to choose from.

A Scandinavian style guest room with a chest-of-drawers found on Decology here.


A Scandinavian style guest room with a wardrobe found on Decology here
 

I was super happy with both (and so was Cas!) - they're pretty nice aren't they?

3. Playing around in the 3D studio
The good news is both schemes were placed in the 3D studio (an exact replica of the guest room) so I could play around with everything and see what looked best. Funnily enough I preferred scheme number one on paper but when I started to play around in the 3D tool I preferred the second scheme - it felt cleaner and more practical (Cassie's man would be pleased - perfect!).



The tool allowed me to rotate the room, zoom in and out and move items around as well as swap them in and out.
 

I could also play around with the colours - going from a lighter look to darker tones.




In the end I opted for one dark grey accent wall behind the bed since I like the contrast, but am aware of the lack of natural light in the room. 

Final Room Design





What do you think? Do you like it?

I showed them to my sister earlier today and she's super happy - yay!

All that's left to do is shop the final design directly through the Decology studio* (so handy!).
 


I've got a feeling I'm going to be a pretty happy guest the next time I visit Cas!

If you're also stuck on a room, I can definitely recommend seeking a little help from Decology! If you'd like to use my schemes as a starting point you can find them here and here. Your space will be ready in no time! 

Niki


Note: I found the Decology site worked best using Google Chrome or the latest Firefox browsers. 

*Shopping service available to UK residents only. 

This post is brought to you in collaboration with Decology, however all words are my own and I only ever work with brands I love and think you will too. Thank you for supporting the businesses that make My Scandinavian Home possible.

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Treat Yourself To A Back to Work Gift!

Sponsored (all words are my own):
What Sweden lacks in the way of light in the winter, it most certainly makes up for in the summer. As a result, everyone is encouraged to take a lengthy summer holiday (we're talking 3-4 weeks -  how heavenly is that?!). It's not about jetting off somewhere exotic though, it's about hanging out at home, maybe taking a road trip to visit friends and family, or easy day trips and ultimately enjoying the abundance of light! The only problem is when it's finally time to get back to work, you feel all dazed and confused - not unlike this owl! Ha! Anyone else feel like this on your first day back?!  This time round, I've found a perfect way to combat this: a back-to-work-gift. How's that for an idea?! Mine came in the form of the Snow Klinga timepiece from Swedish brand TRIWA

Isn't it pretty?! I've never thought about getting a watch with a light grey leather strap before - but I spotted it among the new summer collection in the TRIWA design atelier in Stockholm a few months back and loved the ivory white dial,  light grey organically tanned leather strap and silver buckle combo. It looks super summery with a crisp white boyfriend shirt, and I've got a feeling it will also match the soft blue and white shades of the snowy Scandinavian winter too -  a winner!



I think I might just be happy to be back at my desk after all!



If you love the look of this time-piece (or any of the others in the TRIWA collection) - you can buy it directly though the TRIWA website (they ship worldwide!).

Oh and they have a summer sale on right now with 50% off selected pieces - such as the beautiful Birch Falken  - just saying!

Right. Better get on with some work!!

Niki


 This post is brought to you in collaboration with TRIWA, however all words are my own and I only ever work with brands I love and think you will too. Thank you for supporting the wonderful companies that make MSHB possible!

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My (Sweet) Dream Bedroom Update!

Sponsored post (all words are my own): 




You might remember I went off in search of beauty sleep a few months back And guess what? I've finally got rid of my ancient bed (which was honestly about 25 years old!) and in it's place is Sandö bed from the wonderful Swedish brand Carpe Diem Beds. If you haven't seen me for a while it's because I can't get up in the morning. Ha! Just kidding. But every night I do feel like I'm sleeping on a big, fluffy cloud! Bliss!



Due to the low window, I don't have room for a headboard (a little annoying!), so I opted for headboard cushions in soft  Zaragoza Eggshell in sand to match the upholstery. My husband was slightly sceptical (he placed a ban on me buying any new cushions several years ago!!), but even he approves of these - they make for an uber comfy bedtime read!

I'm so pleased with how the sand colour goes with my Blushing Peach wall too, these things are important for a design lover, right?!



The other thing I love about my bed is that it's named after an island in the Gothenburg archipelago (my heartland - not just because it outstandingly beautiful - it's also where Per and I met!).

And what makes it so comfortable are its three unique interacting spring systems that raise your sleep and the Contour Pocket System which was inspired by the heather on the islands and designed to ensure every inch of your body's supported.


I chose oak legs to bring a natural touch to the space - the beauty is in the detail, after all!







I hope you enjoyed the tour!

If you're looking for me, I'll be right here sleeping like a star fish!

Niki

PS In case you're also in search of a blissful night's sleep, Carpe Diem Beds are available in over twenty countries. You can find your nearest retailer here.


Photography / styling: Niki Brantmark / My Scandinavian Home

I am a very proud ambassador for Carpe Diem Beds who sponsored this post. As always, all words are my own and I only ever work with brands I love and think you will too. Thank you for supporting the brands that make My Scandinavian Home possible.

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