Two terms we often use interchangeably — note to self: stop doing that! — are Scandi modern and midcentury modern. While one is (perhaps obviously) tied to time period and one is tied to provenance, the Venn diagram of the two styles has a lot of overlap. At the risk of triggering a flashback to SAT questions, it's one of those "some Scandi designs are midcentury designs, and some midcentury designs are Scandi designs, but not all Scandi designs are midcentury designs, and vice versa" -type things. Confused yet? A quick way to summarize the relationship between Scandi and MCM would be that Hans Wegner's iconic wishbone chair, produced in the 1950s and designed by a Danish icon, is both an example of Scandinavian design and midcentury design, while the Eames lounge chair, created in 1956 by the American couple Charles and Ray Eames, is just an example of midcentury design.
If you're starting to sweat, don't — the main takeaway is that these two design styles complement each other beautifully, in part because of their shared reference points. (Most designers agree that the Nordic countries have a lot of aesthetic inspiration to be mined, and that the 50s and 60s were a sort of golden age of design thinking.) Both aesthetics have persevered because their designs are timeless and versatile, and able to be incorporated into nearly any new home decor trend we can throw at them. (Notice how many boho-jungalow, desert-modern, and Cali-casual rooms are indebted to the clean lines and light wood of Scandi and MCM furniture?)
Feeling inspired to infuse some classic caché into your own home? Look no further than these stunning spaces that incorporate both Nordic design and midcentury elements to great effect.
This living room/kitchen combo checks all the boxes as far as we're concerned. A reupholstered Eames-style lounge chair plays nicely off the woven light fixture, which is reminiscent of something from Danish brand MUUTO.
Molded chairs with "Eiffel"-style legs are a clear reference to a classic Eames design, while the woven lounge chair in the background harkens back to Wegner's iconic CH25 silhouette.
A starburst or sputnik-style light fixture fast-tracks a space to midcentury vibes if you ask us. Pair it with lots of sleek, warm-toned wood to achieve a modern Scandi vibe that's as versatile as it is timeless.
A recipe for an instantly cool seating area: an MCM upholstered, tufted chair with dowel legs + a Saarinen-reminiscent tulip side table + a super-sleek floor lamp in matte black.
The phrase "Scandinavian kitchen" is enough to send us swooning, and this warm wood option doesn't disappoint. The terrazzo countertops make it just midcentury enough.
Not all Scandi design comes from a storied design name—some of our favorite Scandi staples are from IKEA, like these minimalist industrial-inspired side tables. A warm wood bed frame from DWR and some sleek sconces bring the understated look to the next level.
We're taking a bird's-eye view of iconic design. A Danish-inspired bent plywood chair brings just the right high-end edge to this cozy living room, while reflective orb light fixtures bring major MCM points to the space.
The headboards-with-built-in-nightstands trend from the '60s and '70s is back in a big way, and personally, we couldn't be happier. This slatted statement style draws inspiration equally from Scandinavian design and Japanese design—a common crossover for the midcentury period—and even allows for customization with added shelves.
Emily Bihl is a freelance writer and sometimes-songwriter who can invariably be found rearranging furniture in a domicile somewhere along the Mississippi River. She lives with her black labrador Selkie and a small army of homemade ceramics, and has not willingly closed a browser tab since 2011.