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February 6, 2013

Why the Nokia Lumia 820 is a Nordic design classic

To understand the thinking behind the Nokia Lumia 820’s design, you need look no further than Nokia’s own backyard.

The Nordic design movement has dazzled the world with the concept of “beautiful things that make your life better” for more than half a century. But what are its key elements and where can you see its influence in the Nokia Lumia 820?

Modernist magic

Modernism is at the heart of Nordic design. More a state of mind than a specific style, Modernists believed that the design of an object should be based purely on its purpose – that ‘form follows function’. This philosophy very much complemented the Nordic way of thinking and resulted in Nordic design embracing the abstract motifs and bold primary colours, which are so much part of the Lumia 820’s look.


Democratic design

Another key feature of Nordic design is the way it aims to create accessible, affordable products that appeal to the masses. This tradition stems from established institutions such as the Swedish Society of Industrial Design, which was created to promote design that the general public could access and enjoy. This doesn’t mean stripping design of its beauty, quite the opposite. It means ensuring that beauty is first and foremost functional. A great example of this is the Lumia 820’s removable shells.


The lesson of less

When you live in place where the winter is long and very cold, the original basis for all design has to be function. In the Nordic countries, if a product’s design didn’t help you survive, it was no good. It’s this that explains Nordic design’s lack of decoration and its enthusiasm for minimalism. Use only what is needed, make its function clear and its form simple. You just need to hold the Lumia 820 in your hand to appreciate this aesthetic.


Industrial art

The Nordic countries industrialized a lot later than most of Western Europe. This meant that the mass production that kicked off between the two World Wars was on a much smaller scale there. As a result of this, the Nordic countries were better able to preserve their traditions of craftsmanship and integrate them into commercial production. The result has been called industrial art. Whether it’s the bevelling around the screen or the 4.3-inch OLED screen with ClearBlack display, the craftsmanship in the Lumia 820 is easy to see.


The Nokia Lumia 820 has been born from a design philosophy, which has influenced companies as diverse as Bang and Olufsen, Iittala and Ikea. But what is it you enjoy most about Nordic design? The simplicity or the bold colours? The craftsmanship or the focus on function? As ever, we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.