Real Living Secrets of the Nordics


Photo by Shutterstock


Courtesy of Anders Barslund


Photo by Shutterstock


Photo by Shutterstock


Photo by Shutterstock


Photo by Shutterstock


Photo by Shutterstock


Photo by Shutterstock


Photo by Shutterstock


Why is it that the Nordic ways of architectural design and the usage of materials are so sought after? And why is it, that it is so #€%! hard to replicate, if you’re not from this part of the world? Architect Anders Barslund has a take on why.

Step into a Nordic room. It’s a well-lit room, with the ceiling up high, top to bottom windows and a beautiful view of nature. The floor is made of bright oak treated only with natural soap for protection and the walls are painted in an off-white that reflects just enough light to give the room a soft and angelic feeling. It could be a bedroom, a home office or a living room. But, most importantly, the room and its interior are made from natural materials.

The secret to the Nordic is simple but tough. It’s a mix of mentality and geographical nature or, at least, mimicking nature’s effects inside Nordic homes and working spaces. According to architect Anders Barslund, who has over 20 years of architectural experience, the secret to the real living of the Nordics lies in the materials and how we process them.

If you want to replicate the Nordic style and feel, then firstly you’ve got to use natural materials – but you have to use them without any refining or engineering. By doing this, the materials and the surfaces will have very little to none of the glossy or shiny effect – that’s the main secret of the Nordics,” says Anders Barslund.

If you’ve visited or lived in the Nordics, you’ll know there’s a special feel and vibe that is very hard to copy. Some people might call it minimalist or simplistic – but that just doesn’t cover it.

He continues:

“Using materials as they come from nature is unique to the Nordics. There’s a good reason for this. As humans we are made to be outside. Outside in nature. We need the natural look in our surroundings to feel comfortable, and that natural look often is matt, almost dead-matt without any gloss or shine. Go anywhere else in the world and you’ll find the usage of lacquered and refined items used more intensively. This isn’t because other cultures don’t need to be outside but is mostly caused by different turns of events throughout history.”

Bringing nature inside
As the evolved homo sapiens that we are, we tend to forget where we came from. We were once a species that lived outside under the open sky. We embraced and lived side by side with nature – at its worst and its best. And that’s why we seek to bring nature back into our homes and offices.

“For us Nordics, nature is the source of our well-being and, without it, we’d be lost. We were built to live outside and, by using unrefined natural materials, we bring in that outdoor feeling to support our mentality,” says Anders Barslund.

Using natural materials such as stone, clay, wood and chalk not only gives you the sought-after effect of matt or life essence. They are also materials that will last you a lifetime or more, if treated correctly.

Engineered materials
Within the last few decades we’ve seen a lot of engineered materials appear – composites like wood dust mixed with glue and plastic to create a solid and durable material that needs almost no caretaking, and therefore is easy to apply and use. But we haven’t had these engineered materials around long enough to really know them.

We know wood, stone, brick etc. and we know how to treat these materials so they will last over a hundred years. We don’t yet know how engineered materials will react to the elements of nature, or indoor living, not for a lifetime” says Anders Barslund on a final note.

You can read more about why bringing nature inside is so important here.


The goal of DANISH™ is to promote Danish architecture and design in a broad perspective, and demonstrate all the potentials in these fields.

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