Anna Carin standing and looking at camera

All Things Scandinavian Design

Talking with a fellow Scandinavian mother is always such a treat. Not more so than talking to Anna Carin McNamara about Scandinavian Design. I was excited about this podcast episode as I like to indulge on Scandi Design and to talk to someone who works on this field felt like a birthday treat.

How Did You Start Your Career?

Anna-Carin started her journey into interior design while back in Stockholm where she ended up working with architect Rupert Gardner who encouraged Anna-Carin to study design in London. Anna-Carin graduated from Royal College of Art in London and followed her heart to Australia after meeting the love of her life.

Anna-Karin says that it was not easy back in 1995 to start a business. Internet was on its infancy, as was email. To get her name out there she started INNA an interior design shop with another Swedish girl and early on her career landed to some magazine editorials and word spread about her shop in Woollahra. This is how she landed her first clients.

Fast forward 25 year, three children later and Anna-Carin Design is interior architecture boutique where she provides stylish, but functional design to contemporary spaces drawing from her Swedish roots. She said her business was dormant at times when she was being a mother. The juggle being mother and business meant she concentrated on her kids rather than sacrifice the time with her kids.

Defining Scandinavian Design by Anna-Karen McNamara

When asked how you define Scandinavian Design Anna Carin said that Scandi Design for her is three elements.

    • Simplicity – refined to a point of moving unnecessary, logical solution
    • Functional – the design is practical for the user, right proportions.
    • Sustainability – the design is timeless and will last the test of time. Good quality like the chair by Pipi Mobler where the wood used takes 100 years to grow and the chair is made to last.

Did You Get Goosebumps as I did?

I had goosebumps when we talked about this. These principles are how we live our lives. Nordic living is all about Simplicity, Functional and Sustainability. Even after all this time, I endorse these concepts and practice them in my life. Anna-Carin agrees that user experience on how the item feels, and how you can use it.

When talking about why Scandinavian Design is so appealing on people Anna-Carin said it comes from the history of the Scandinavian Design.  The classic designs of the Windsor chair by Hans Wegner was core design that was taken from history and then made is simpler and appealing to today’s world. The history is what today’s designers use as a way to bring the history back to life and this contemporary design coming from Scandinavia keeps its appeal.

Why Australians Live Scandinavian Design

We talked about why Scandinavian Design is more appealing for Australians more than in Europe. Anna- Carin says she has been thinking about this and in her opinion, it is linked to nature and how Australians live. Australians have a strong connection to nature as does the Swedes. In Scandi Design we like to relate to nature and that is appealing to Australians. The design speaks to Australians as we bring the design from outside to inside through using more for example wood.

When we talked about why brands like Marimekko, Artek,  Fritz Hansen have been able to evolve and lasted through the test of time. Here Anna-Carin said this relates to the history and end of World War Two. There was support from the governments to help the industries to grow, from manufacturing to design and use materials from their countries like birch trees in Finnish furniture design. This helped to start the exporting of these products and Scandinavians are very strong and stubborn.


We are Shivria, we are Oxes, we will not give up, we will find a way.

By Ingvar Kamprad from Ikea


Many of these companies have had to to make it work for example Marimekko and Royal Copenhagen have employed new designers who think a new way and have been able to do new designs in a new way.

Scandi Brands Last Longer

Image by Ivan Stangerhlin by Pixabay

Another thing that makes these brands have lasted is that the Scandi design is very affordable and available for everyone. It is part of the Scandi way of living. Everyone has a piece of Scandinavian furniture or table wear in their houses. The Scandinavians even living abroad we still have those nostalgic pieces to remind us from home.

We talked about Ikea and how it has been global domination as it does apply the functional, practical design.

However, it is mass produced and sustainable is not one of the core values that you would associate with Ikea. There are calls for War on Waste to make Ikea products more sustainable. In council clean ups 40% are from Ikea. They have a big market, create homes and design and quality.

However, people buy thinking that they will get rid off if need be. Solar panels on Ikea warehouses, returning the used items and getting an incentive from Ikea are ways they are changing the way we consume their products.

Repurposing and Recycling

Repurposing and recycling or furniture here in Australia are still very rare and difficult. Scandinavian countries are so ahead of Australia on this and there are lots of being said and done about this. This Marie Kondo decluttering that is going on, we should also look at what need rather than for gratifying reason Anna -Carin says.

Anna Carin has just published Make a Home to Love book. She wrote the book in response to the mentality that we put things, life on hold while we do things. She wanted to talk about what you have, how you use the space you, over complexing renovations. If you remove things you do not need, rearranging and storing things rather than get new things. Optimizing your space and new way of looking at your new place.

I agreed her approach as I am known to want to knock the walls down as soon as we move in. Anna- Carin thinks the purpose of our home is to have a connection with our family and ourselves and nature and the homes provide this to us. If we look after our homes and nurture ourselves, we can go and look after the world.

Anna Carin gave these three tips to get some more Nordic vibe, Scandinavian design to your home

  1. Take away the downlights and put some nice lighting to your space, perhaps leg lamp on the corner
  2. Light up some candles and put on the coffee
  3. Push the furniture away from the corners so that you can interact with people

Connect With Anna-Carin

Website: https://www.annacarindesign.com.au/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/annacarindesign/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/annacarin.mcnamara

If you liked this, you might like an episode about Scandinavian Minimalism and how to apply it to your home.

Connect With Me

You can connect with me on the following social platforms.

Facebook: @NordicMumSusanna
Instagram: @thenordicmum

Did You Like What You Heard?

Let me know by giving us a Review on iTunes. I love reading your reviews and I love to share them in our Instagram stories. Just hit the link, select Ratings and Review and Write a Review. We love to bring you more exciting guests and the reviews will help up us to share the scandic love that little bit further. If you have any comment, questions, or just want to chat head out to Instagram or Facebook where I hang out.

Don’t forget to subscribe for a new episode out every Monday.

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.