Designers Cate Högdahl and Nelson Ruiz-Acal

Scandi-lust: How to get Nordic right

Fashion, furniture, fabrics – how do Scandinavians always get it right? There's so much to learn from the Finnish, Swedish and Norwegian way of life and their interior design. To get the inside scoop, we spoke to the creators of our Wes and Magnus sofas - Swedish born Cate Högdahl and her work and life partner Nelson Ruiz-Acal - and asked them how to Scandify your home.

No offence

Nelson, born in Spain, sums up the effect: ”It brings calmness to your mind because it doesn’t overwhelm you with its personality – it never offends.” Agreeing with Nelson, Cate adds: “It calms not only the room but the people, too. It's also very classic. It can stay with you for many years and it survives trends.”

Finding balance

“Proportions are absolutely key”, Nelson explains, “It's very important to treat a space correctly. Every size and proportion needs to be...” “…well balanced I think,” Cate finishes. "And the right choice of materials. But overall, I would say it's the balance.”

Shaping the rules

Nelson: "When it comes to shapes, the usual rule is form follows function. There are no unnecessary gestures by the designer, no shapes are added that are not needed. In short: Keep it clean, keep it simple. And there’s always a round element. A design with only straight lines can look harsh. Sometimes we need to add a curve to give more comfort to the product.”

Let’s talk lighting

Lighting is a particular Scandinavian strength according to Nelson: “They use the light not only to see but to create an environment. In an open room, you can create different spaces with lighting. Plus, the light should be warm, not cold. That’s very important.” Cate continues: “For this effect, you need more lighting sources. Not just one or two. There can be five points of light.”


Rugs are very important,” Nelson notes. “Scandinavians always take their shoes off at home,” Cate continues. “We bring in a lot of textiles in the form of cushions, blankets or throws. But we don’t use curtains. We want to let the light in." Many would be concerned about privacy, but Nelson assures us that “it's so easy to be private in Sweden. In October, no one’s outside after 6pm. And most houses have big gardens. Gardens don't even have fences."

What’s the formula for success?

In addition to light, Nelson believes that a “mix of natural materials like wood and textiles” is essential. “We used to see a lot of brass, but I think we're moving on to chrome now. Plants are also very important.” Something Cate agrees with strongly. “That can be any kind of plant. Obvious ones are the Monstera or cacti and larger tropical plants. But any plant brings in some nature.”

Follow the seasons

Cate's theory is that the particular climate in Sweden made people care more about the interiors of their home: "Because of the long winters, you spend so much time in your own house or someone else's. So that’s why you are kind of pushed into it.”

Hands on

The focus on one's own home is supported by a particular appreciation for craftsmanship and manual labour. Nelson adds: “In Scandinavia, you start not really designing, but with learning about manufacturing while you're in school. You spend a lot of time working with wood and different materials there.” Cate: “Indeed, you start from a very young age. We have wood workshops and textiles lessons. We work a lot with our hands. And later people do a lot in their own houses. They are used to doing things themselves.”

How to design a Scandi sofa

On designing their new Magnus sofa, Nelson says: “The idea was to go oversized. People should see it and feel like they want to lounge there. While designing it, we had a family with a young toddler in mind.” Cate adds: “We wanted it to be very comfortable but with a Scandinavian feel. So we chose a warmer wood and warmer textiles. It needed to be a very welcoming, cosy, big sofa.”


Nelson: "As a sofa, you won't just enjoy sitting in it, but looking at it, too. That’s why it was important to us that the sofa would look good from every angle. It doesn’t need to stand in front of a wall. It can be placed in the middle of a room. That’s why the legs can be seen from different sides. They are quite thick. And you can rest on top of the armrest without sitting down.”

Article written by: Marius Thies

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