Arctic Design

Not just IKEA or minimalism

Bildmuseet

To just associate Swedish art and design with IKEA or minimalism just doesn’t do it justice, as there’s so much more waiting to be discovered.

Arctic Sweden is known for its natural beauty, but not many know that it has a vibrant art and design scene. The university town of Umeå is home to the contemporary art museum Bildmuseet (Umeå Museum of Art) – which is said to be one of the world’s most beautiful museums – and Skulpturparken, one of Europe’s best sculpture parks. Additionally, Umeå University prides itself on its impressive Umeå Arts Campus, which houses the School of Architecture, Institute of Design, and Umeå Academy of Fine Arts.

It’s easy to see where the people of Arctic Sweden draw their inspiration. Surrounded by nature, there’s no shortage of materials for handicrafts – wool, birch, wood, and more. It’s also been said that while being cooped up indoors due to the harsh winters, people in this region would create new things as a pastime. That’s why it’s said that the artisans of Arctic Sweden love to combine nature and innovative design.

Nature aside, culture and tradition are also rich sources of inspiration. In Sweden, the north is the heartland of the Sami people, so artists and designers of Sami descent infuse traditional art styles and crafting techniques into their works – preserving their traditions while catering to modern sensibilities.

But Arctic Sweden isn’t just excelling in art and design in the traditional sense. Digital design companies such as game design startups have also emerged in recent years, a testament that the creative minds in Arctic Sweden have been taking artistry and innovation to the next level.

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