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Nordic design: 6 new decoration trends for 2021

What are the significant trends in the Nordic design scene in 2020? We have been to the '3 Days of Design' festival in Copenhagen, Denmark, to answer this question. The fair, usually in spring, was held this year from September 3-5 due to the coronavirus pandemic. In the 2020 edition, more than 160 companies and organizations from the Nordic design scene showcased their innovations and ideas. Many of them have focused on sustainability but also highlight solutions for small-space living or a return to what can be defined as vintage technology. This article highlights six ideas that have caught our attention in this year's edition.

1. Furniture that encourages social interaction

In a world where we spend more and more time glued to a screen, especially during these months of confinement and social distancing, human interaction has become a priority for many people. The Sideways sofa, by Danish designer Rikke Frost for Carl Hansen & Søn, is one such novelty that seeks to encourage safe contact between people. "On most sofas, we sit side by side, which can be intimidating, or face to face, which is sometimes uncomfortable for more informal social interaction. I have intended to create a sofa that encourages more natural conversation," Frost explained at Carl Hansen & Søn's flagship store in central Copenhagen. "Tablets and other digital equipment are challenging the way we interact, so I wanted to make a sofa where people sit facing each other and can talk in a slightly more natural way."

2. Smoothness and rounded forms

Is there anything more comforting than lying on a soft, round piece of furniture? Perhaps the world is a more challenging place today may be why we've seen a more significant number of upholstered pieces in pleasingly organic, rounded shapes this year. The fluffy Sequoia sheepskin pouf, designed by Space Copenhagen for Fredericia Furniture, is another excellent example of the pastel trend we saw at this show. The striking benches and poufs in Please Wait to be Seated's ANZA collection further proves that we are increasingly enjoying soft, cushioned products and spaces.

3. Multifunctional and space-saving solutions

Space in many cities is becoming increasingly scarce and, in general, for different reasons, the houses being built are tiny. This trend calls for a bright, multifunctional, and space-saving design, and Nordic design responds to that challenge. A great example is the Angle stool by Danish publisher Form & Refine. Its folding design allows the chair to be hung on the wall when not used (a solid brass hook is included).

Another example we bring from Copenhagen of multifunctional design is the Terra collection, a series of plant accessories designed by Norwegian architecture and studio Snøhetta for the Georg Jensen brand. Three of the stainless steel planters in the collection are reversible. Thus, when a plant grows, the pot can be turned around and, thus, have a pot with more volume, all in one piece.

4. Nordic classics from the '50s and '60s are back.

Relaunching furniture from the 50s and 60s or delving into the archives to find "new" designs from the great designers of the golden age of Nordic furniture is a trend we've been seeing for a while. Danish high-end radio and television manufacturer Bang & Olufsen is engaged in a project in which they buy and restore some of the most iconic design pieces from previous decades. The Beogram 4000 series turntables, designed in 1972 by Jacob Jensen, are the first products to be refurbished. Buying one of these vintage products that have been restored by hand is a way to add a unique piece to your home; it's also more sustainable than buying new ones.

5. Old and new merge in a modern, creative and sustainable way.

Home décor often involves a mix of old and new pieces. In the 2020 edition, design brand & Tradition and auction house Bruun Rasmussen have given shape to this trend in the exhibition A Collector's Home.

Both companies have furnished the Lindencrone mansion in central Copenhagen, showcasing a century of design & Tradition alongside art pieces and antique furniture that Bruun-Rasmussen is auctioning at the end of September, including Russian mahogany chairs from 1850; a 1950s bar cabinet from Danish publisher Lysberg, Hansen & Therp; and several modern bronze sculptures worth between €1,200 and €5,000. The trend of mixing old and new is a way to bring personality to an interior and is also a form of sustainable decorating: don't buy anything new if you can get good second-hand items or already have things that work. If it's time to get something new, it's best to opt for quality pieces with timeless aesthetics.

6. Greenwashing or false sustainability

Sustainability is the buzzword in the design industry right now. Today, companies are no longer questioning sustainable value but are looking for the best ways to become green and environmentally friendly brands. But when everyone is striving to be, or at least appear to be, greener than their competitors, there is a risk that some companies promise more in this regard about their materials, production, shipping, and products than is accurate. This is called greenwashing, and during the panel discussion 'Danish Design 2.0', several designers highlighted the importance of making consumers aware of this phenomenon.

"Of course, many companies are talking about sustainability in the marketing of their products," says Danish industrial designer Kasper Salto. He suggests that what is unacceptable is when what is made falls far short of those promises.

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