With Swedish food sales to the UK increasing by approaching a third over the last five years, and Norway and Denmark also reporting an increase in exports intended for Britain, not to mention the unstoppable rise of Scandinavian detective fiction, in TV, film and book form, from Wallander to The Killing, it’s starting to feel the world has an unquenchable thirst for all things Nordic.
But it’s furniture and furniture design that remain Scandinavia’s best-loved exports across the world. Swedish firm IKEA, for example, is on the search for new markets, with India in its sights. The firm expects to retain its Nordic form on products sold in the sub-continent – characterised by functional, stripped design.
At the same time, the world’s largest furniture retailer, now approaching its eighth decade of operation, is also planning on allowing customers to add their own touches to products before they buy them – whether that involves making adjustments to an item like a sofa or creating fabric patterns online using IKEA’s website. (Although items will continue to be mass-produced.)
The 25 stores planned for India follow record sales last year of 27bn Euros. IKEA already sources many of its textiles here. However the company has stressed that it will stick to its traditional designs and what it does best – with no big changes planned for the range it will sell there.
The enduring popularity of Scandinavian furniture
But where did it all begin – and why are Nordic furnishings so enduringly popular?
Following mass-production in the wake of the Second World War, Scandinavian furniture became popular in the first half of the twentieth century, when it began to be exported overseas.
With abundant local forests meaning wood, particularly pine, was a cheaply and readily available natural resource, specialist furniture manufacturers quickly perfected their craft.
Over time, many furniture firms in the region have developed an impeccable reputation for making furniture of an extremely high quality, handcrafted from solid and incredibly strong and long-lasting.
In particular, manufacturers tend to focus on creating a luxurious finish, making the furniture smooth and elegant.
Beware cheap imitations
Given the massive popularity of furnishings from Scandinavia, many of the products have been copied cheaply and rather poorly. However, by continuing to fashion furniture to the same high standard as always, Nordic firms have retained their standing as sought-after producers of solid wood furnishings.
Nordic furnishings: the facts
- Most furnishings from this part of the world come from Norway, Sweden and Denmark, although Iceland and Finland can also be included in this category Initially, the items were made as a reaction against the furnishings being poduced in the 19th century that were mostly used for artistic, decorative purposes
- The trademark style of Nordic furniture is its simple, minimalist style and its functional rather than decorative appeal. In most Scandinavian homes, there are few items of furniture, and those which are there have a practical use.
Protecting your Scandinavian furniture
Given its affordability as well as its simplicity, Scandinavian items shouldn’t cost a fortune to insure. It’s also so well made that you are unlikely to need to claim for it breaking. Equally, if you are unlucky enough to be burgled, it’s unlikely that furnishings would be among the items to be taken.
You do need to be sure you are covered, though. You only need to add up the cost of replacing everything in your home to see why adequate home contents insurance is so important.
Unfortunately, most of the circumstances that could involve making a claim, such as fire, flood and storm damage, would be stressful enough without also taking a heavy financial toll.
And, late last year, it was reported that, while the average cost of car insurance has been falling, home insurance rose over the third quarter of 2012, with combined contents and buildings policy rising by an average of 1%.
The rise has been blamed on last summer’s flooding, which the Association of British insurers says cost around £400m in claims
When it comes to insurance, there are plenty of options from providers like Quotezone home insurance, who among others provide quotes for cover for your buildings and contents. You need home contents insurance whether you rent or own your home to protect your assets and cover the expense of replacing your things if they are damaged or stolen. (These costs are easily underestimated.) Equally, with things like fire or flooding, it’s easy to think it won’t happen to you. And, probably, they won’t – but such events are more common than you may have realised.
When it comes to renewing your insurance, your existing provider may not necessarily still provide the best deal, so, again, it’s worth shopping around.