I’m very excited about my latest profile post, as it features a brand which I’ve admired for a long time. Based in Copenhagen, Skandinavisk celebrates the Scandinavian way of life through a range of scented candles and room fragrances, all with simple yet wonderfully evocative names such as SKOG (‘forest’), HAV (‘sea’) and KOTO (Finnish for ‘cosy at home’). I own quite a few of them, and in fact my current favourite, RO (‘tranquility’), is flickering away by my side as I type.
You only have to read the strapline on Skandinavisk’s website to get a feel for its ethos: ‘A sense of Scandinavia. Of vast silent landscapes and raw seasons, of cosy shared moments and quiet sophistication’. And if that doesn’t stir your imagination, these two short films produced by the company certainly will. But what’s particularly intriguing is that Skandinavisk was founded not by native Scandinavians, but by two English guys, Shaun and Gerry, who moved to the region 15 years ago and, in their own words, “fell in love with two blonde Scandinavian girls and never left”.
I chatted to Shaun to find out more…
Please can you tell us about Skandinavisk?
“We share impressions of Scandinavia through scent. The word ‘Skandinavisk’ simply means ‘Scandinavian’ in all three Scandinavian languages – Danish, Swedish and Norwegian. Since this is what we celebrate, it was the obvious name for our company.”
How did it all start?
“I was living in Stockholm, after about 10 years of being based in Scandinavia, and I began to understand and appreciate the difference in lifestyle – the balance of vast landscapes and raw seasons, combined with the inhabitants’ desire to create cosiness and happiness in the smallest everyday moments. It’s a story I think people can learn from, and we chose candles as a means to tell that story. Fragrances enable us to make the story richer.”
What inspires your range?
“The landscapes and seasons, and the people of Scandinavia.”
What do you find so appealing about Scandinavian culture, and why do you think it has become so popular on an international level in recent years?
“It’s how Scandinavians approach everyday life – with balance, purpose and a priority on finding happiness in small, everyday moments. It’s an immensely creative region too, but I think all its output – films, books, food, design, tech – is because the approach to life is so distinct and beneficial.”
What role do candles and scent play in Scandinavian culture?
“Scandinavian countries use more candles than any other nations in the world. They use them morning, noon and night, 12 months a year. It’s all part of their desire to make any moment softer, more informal and more cosy.
“Scent doesn’t play a huge role, to be honest. Scandinavians don’t like anything in excess, particularly perfume. But at the same time, the importance of the seasons and the reappearance of native flora every year – and the scents that come with these – are so important that they create a beautiful backdrop to people’s lives.”
What do you want people to experience when they light a Skandinavisk candle or use one of your room fragrances?
“To appreciate an understated fragrance that complements a room rather than trying to dominate it, and which tells a story of a region perhaps not previously told.”
Do you have any personal favourites from your range?
“It very much depends on the moment, but two of the new fragrances – NAT (‘night’) and BÅL (‘campfire’) – are my current favourites. NAT is a very seductive evening scent reminiscent of midnight outdoors in the late summer, while BÅL is our smokiest fragrance yet and a reminder of evenings together around the campfire.”
The films on your website are beautiful. What inspired them?
“Thank you! The brand films were our attempt to visualise the landscape that inspires us, and were mostly shot near Marstrand on Sweden’s west coast. The story films were made to help people understand more about the thinking behind our brand and how we do what we do.”
Finally, what’s next for Skandinavisk? Do you have any new products on the horizon?
“We have a number of product launches coming up in September, including two new fragrances. The first of these, BÆR (‘berry’), is a warmed berry scent reminiscent of family trips outdoors and sweet reductions on the stove. The other fragrance is a secret right now, but it’s a real departure for us and we’re very excited about it.”
To find out more about Skandinavisk and view the full range, head over to the website.
Photography via Skandinavisk