Friday, 23 December 2016

Nordic Minimalism at Christmas

Pic of straw goat with red binding against nearly bare Christmas tree in store window

Christmas is the time of year when everyone seems to go over the top with decorations. I highlighted London's lights and elaborately decorated shop windows in earlier blogs. One store's window stood out for its minimalist decorations on my Christmas walking tour: Skandium, the Scandinavian design and furniture retailer.

I saw a Christmas tree that was barely decorated and a straw goat.

Skandium Knightsbridge store window after closing time
There were two more straw goats on the opposite side.

Pic of two straw goats in shop window - two different sizes

Cultural tastes and norms
Let's be frank here: it looks as if the store simply hasn't made much of an effort for Christmas. I recalled my many years of working with Nordic countries. My experience told me that the seeming absence of a display is simply a reflection of Nordic cultural tastes and norms.

Is a global look and feel possible?
The minimalist 'display' reminded me of past Nordic reviewers who disliked 'ostentation' in American corporate style. They regularly wanted the style toned down.

Meanwhile, the Japanese wanted the visuals for their corporate brochures to look more 'showy' for its target audience. American corporate identity guidelines rarely tolerate and accommodate Japanese style, norms and expectations easily.

Nordic and Japanese tastes and expectations are practically at opposite poles. Such cultural differences make it difficult, and sometimes even impossible, for a company to have a single, effective corporate look and feel globally.

Swedish tradition
So what's with the straw ornaments? It is a Swedish tradition to make straw ornaments at Christmas (see YouTube video below).

Gävle goat
The Gävle goat is Sweden's famous straw goat. It is erected at the start of Advent. Unfortunately, the stories of vandalism and arson have become as famous as the goat. Various security measures have tried to protect it over the years. It barely lasted more than a few hours before being torched this year.

Washington Post report 2016

Sweden's News in English 2016

2012 ITN report video:

Other Nordic ornaments
I was pleased to see that there were still straw goats in the windows at Skandium when I passed the store again a week later. I also took a look at the other straw, minimalist and rustic-looking Christmas ornaments inside. Lots of candles and candle holders too. A bit pricey for my budget, but I admired their simplicity nonetheless.

I would have taken a close-up photo of the large straw goat in the window. Unfortunately, the couple who followed me out were stopped by security for a bag search. As a result, I simply couldn't get the right angle for a good shot.

You may appreciate more Nordic Christmas ornaments in the following video instead:

Karen Andrews is a freelance French to English translator, transcreator, content writer and editor. She has a strong background in global marketing.

Email Karen for further information via in French, German or English.

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