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?!


// 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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Allie's Bedroom Makeover - From Tween to Teen!

Paid partnership with Elfa, all words are my own and I only ever work with brands I love and think you will too. 

The thing about children is that one minute they're tiny babies, the next they're whizzing off on adventures with friends! Take my daughter, Allie. She's turning twelve this October! Where has the time gone? Always a ray of sunshine, she can't go two steps without a cartwheel and loves to ski, play football (that's soccer to all my American friends!) and lately, has become passionate about fashion and interiors (hmmm, I wonder who she gets that from?). 

Needless to say, she grew out of her bedroom a long time ago - and a makeover was well overdue. Since I promised 2022 would be the years we'd organise our home (with my new wardrobe checked off the list last month), one of the key factors would be to ensure it had plenty of storage! It would also need to cater for Allie's needs - and of course, reflect her personal style and wish list. 


I told you our house is messy / disorganised! I'm surprised there wasn't a pair of pants (UK version) on the floor! Chaos aside, this side of the room was dominated by low storage which was crammed with books, toys, cuddly bears and a load of other bits and bobs. 

I've noticed that the toys have slowly started to collect dust and her room has become a place to hang out with friends, do homework and experiment with fashion, hair and make-up - in between making TikToks and doing backflips on her bed - not always in that order!

I asked Allie what she felt was missing and we narrowed it down to:

- A desk area with drawers 
- A pinboard for small pictures, notes and general inspiration 
- Book shelves - with book ends! 
- A dressing table 
- Good lighting 

Oh, and the look and feel should have a hint of boho with lots of greenery, natural material and plants! 


Above is the original design, which was created using the Elfa drag and drop online planning tool. Once the items arrived, we rejigged them a little to make use of the natural light (that's one of the beauties of Elfa - it's a flexible system so you can constantly adapt it according to your needs as well as add items over time). 


Just like the wardrobe system in my bedroom, this shelving system is centred around a series of vertical rods, to which you can click-in a whole tray of items such as shelves, drawers, clipboards, mirrors, hooks and more. For a children's bedroom it's an absolute dream! Here's a breakdown of the items we added: 

The desk area

Above the desk we added a Storing Board with attachable hooks and boxes for small items like pens, paperclips and scissors (Per always marvels at how many 'tiny' items the girls amass, all of which are apparently crucial!). 

I particularly love that the desk height can be raised as she grows!

mesh basket under the desk is used to store cables (her room is officially neater than my office!). 

And we also added a series of deep wire drawers with Décor fronts for all her notepads, paint etc. 

The shelves 

To create the shelving, we used a series of melamine shelves mounted on click-in brackets. Lesser used items are / old photos etc which Allie would like to save for the future have been stored away on higher shelves (we might buy a small footstool which could double-up as the dressing table stool) and the things she uses daily are within reach on the lower shelves. 

One of the niftiest items we discovered is the reversible shelf / tray which can be used as a shelf for plants etc or a tray for paper, prints etc with a ridge so they don't slide off.  

We also used a series of book supports and wallbands to stop tomes and other items from falling off the shelves (you haven't seen the chaos when Allie does gymnastics!). 

Sidenote: have you read 'The Boy, the mole, the fox and the horse'? It's the sweetest book and a Brantmark family favourite! 

The pinboard 

I made the pinboard using a cork board covered with stretched linen.  

Slim hooks that click into place created a place for hairbands, necklaces, sunglasses... you name it! 

The dressing table 

A dressing table was highest on Allie's wish list! She's actually not allowed to wear make-up outside of the house yet, but she loves to experiment and have fun with it at home!

To create the dressing table area, we added a Decor Mirror - which is the same as the one I have in my new wardrobe. We also put a reversible shelf underneath it for nail varnish, brushes etc and a series of clear boxes (from the Elfa Studio in town) for make-up, jewellery etc. A simple lamp above lights up the area after dark. 

The drawer underneath has been fitted with a Decor accessory tray so that Allie has a place for her bits and bobs like earrings, hairbands, purses etc. 

And finally, we hung a Bracket hook rack on the side for her bags. 

Oh, how I'd have loved to have had this setup when I was a kid! 

The best thing of all, is that it's created so much space in the rest of her room, perfect for phase two of the make-over - rumour has it, Allie's planned a gallery wall with Per's old LPs, a garland of trailing ivy and there was a mention of a lava lamp! I'm looking forward to seeing the boho look unfold!

Oh, and in case you're wondering about the keyboard, there's space for it on the long desk but she might also use a stand instead. 

I hope you like the results as much as Allie does! Please do give me a shout if you have any questions - or if you have a children's room to plan, you can find out more about this system over at Elfa

I hope you have a relaxing, fun weekend planned. I'm heading off to Stavanger, Norway this evening to write a city guide for an English magazine - very exciting, Norway is my favourite country in the world! I hope I can squeeze in a trip to the fjords and a hike on the Saturday. If you'd like to follow along, I'll be sharing my trip on Instagram stories. 

Trevlig helg! Have a great weekend! 


Photography Niki Brantmark / My Scandinavian Home

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A Cosy Swedish Cottage In The Snow

If we'd seen an alfresco winter table setting two years ago, we'd have thought the idea was crazy - but in today's world, it not only seems like a perfectly normal scene, but also at times the only way to gather with friends and family right now! So, friends, don your best snow boots, wrap up warm and pull up a sheep-skin lined seat - it's time to take you on a tour of a snowy Swedish cottage, and temperatures here are well below minus right now! 
Located around 45 minutes outside of Stockholm, the charming cottage consists of a main house and barn - both of which provide bunks for overnight guests and can also be used for cosy gatherings! 
In wintertime a table is set up outside, in the shelter of the barn. I have to say, the idea reminds me a little of Christmas at my Swedish Father-in-law's house. We often gather outside for glögg and pepperkaka before heading indoors to thaw out over a Julbord (Christmas buffet). 
A pathway has been carved out with a shovel and lit by large outdoor tea lights. Do you have these in your country? In Scandinavia they're often placed either side of a front door when you're entertaining and provide a warm welcome! 
The fire pit has also come into its own in the past 18 months (see '7 winter warmer essentials for outdoor gatherings). 
Meanwhile, indoors, the charming cottage is full of pretty details including beams, angled ceilings and fireplaces - making it a cosy place to while away winter weekends! 

Isn't it lovely?

I read yesterday that there's a group of people stuck in a pub in England for the third day running due to treacherous weather. My question is - would you rather be snowed in here or an English pub? I guess it depends a little on the supplies and who you are with, but I'd definitely vote for this cottage! 

Would you like to see other snowy Scandinavian homes today? 

Stay warm friends! 


Photography Melinda Rönnberg, styling Stories by Chaundy courtesy of Bosthlm

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