What's special about vintage modern Scandinavian fabrics?
Modern Scandinavian textile design in the period spanning the late 1950s through to the late 1970s can be roughly divided into three broad style categories:
• Stylised designs taken from nature, especially trees, leaves and flowers, as seen in the work of textile designers such as Josef Frank, Saini Salonen and Viola Gråsten. These designs are especially prevalent in Swedish textiles from the postwar period, with prominent producers including Borås Wäfveri.
• Geometric designs as seen in the work of designers such as Verner Panton. Outside Scandinavia, geometric fabric designs were also very popular in the midcentury era in Germany and the UK, with artists including Barbara Brown and Peter Perritt designing textiles for prestigious companies such as Heals.
• Semi-abstract art designs as seen in the work of fabric designers like Maija Isola and Marjatta Metsovaara. Textiles in this style were especially popular in Finland, where designs tended to be particularly bold and on a very large scale and were produced by companies including Marimekko, Tampella and Finlayson. In the UK, Heals and David Whitehead also produced many fabrics in this style, with notable designers including Lucienne Day, Marian Mahler and John Piper.
Many of the best Scandinavian modern fabric designs from this era have proved to be perennial classics that have continued to resonate throughout the 50-plus years since they were created. Indeed, a number of such designs have been brought back into production, sometimes in new colourways, and their influence can also be seen in many of today's contemporary fabric designs. The quality of the original fabrics and print techniques from the 50s, 60s and 70s are, however, rarely if ever matched by today's productions, while the colours of the originals tend to be more distinctively characteristic of their era.
How to use Scandinavian fabrics from the 50s, 60s & 70s
We often use these stunning vintage fabrics in the way they were originally intended – as curtains, as tablemats and tablecloths, or as headscarves. But our favourite tip is to use them as wall hangings, which emphasises their identity as the works of art they really are and is also a really easy and cost-effective way to introduce a strong Scandinavian midcentury modern ambience into a room.