What Can We Learn From Across The North Sea?

The Minimalist design trend peaked in the late 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, but has been going strong for decades now, and it don’t show any signs of disappearing. It’s all about bold colours, simple ideas and making the most from the raw material, combining function with aesthetics to create a timeless style.

While Scandinavian design is more about organic shapes and materials, Swiss design style is no-nonsense, functional and clinical clean lines, removing the unnecessary, and emphasising the necessary. Our friends at The Dieline recently published a post on mid century Swiss packaging design which shows some great examples of minimal design: http://www.thedieline.com/blog/2013/9/4/25-mid-century-swiss-package-designs.html

Back in the 1960’s James Miho designed a range of jar labels (below) to promote a range of Champion Papers. The idea behind the design was to show that a bold, eye-catching label could make people stop looking around and focus on that product, and communicate quality in the simplest way.

Fourty years later, Ikea produced another iconic, minimal range of packaging for their own food products. They stuck rigidly to their brand guidelines by keeping the product descriptors in their native language, and the packaging had to communicate what the product was to over 40 other countries, but not all of the product descriptors are as easy to translate as ‘Pastej Krabba’.

Marimekko, a leading Finnish textile manufacturer has a very distinctive Scandinavian style. Many of the patterns are still as popular now as they were in the 50s and have been widely exhibited throughout Europe, Asia and the US, having an enormous influence on contemporary textile design. The marimekko poppy pattern was designed way back in 1964, and still looks fresh and modern. Even though the Marimekko style is fairly simple, their patterns are still very recognisable.

Other manufacturer retailer such as Habitat and Made.com are all heavily influenced by Scandinavian style. You can also quite obviously see the influence that Apple has taken with their simple, elegant and functional design, and the use of the bold bright colours.

The heart of both the Scandinavian and Swiss design ethos is that good design should be accessible to everyone. A belief that it need tot take a lot of elements to create beauty. Their design aesthetic is more functional and goal-oriented than decorative and fussy.

Even though minimal design sometimes appears like it could have been produced in 2 minutes, it is often in fact the most difficult design style to get right. Minimal design needs to be different enough to stand out and still have a understandable story behind it. When done right, it creates a huge amount of impact, and can result in a dominant brand that will remain fresh for years.

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