The Nordic region is full of innovative and exciting brands (including some awesome tech startups).
From fintech to fashion design, there are loads of Nordic startups and household names that you need to know about.
See who made our shortlist…
Everyone’s played with lego’s interlocking bricks and tiny figurines at some point in their life. This Danish toy company was founded in 1932 by Ole Kirk Kristiansen, and has risen to world dominance since — they’ve even been named ‘Toy of the Century’ twice. The name ‘LEGO’ is an abbreviation of the two Danish words ‘leg godt’, meaning ‘play well’.
My personal butter of choice. This Danish butter brand is now a UK household staple and is also sold in over 75 countries. The Lurpak logo consists of two entwined ‘lurs’ — Bronze Age instruments that have since become a symbol of Denmark and its awesome butter.
Classic Danish beer that everyone drinks (even the Swedes). The Turborg brewing company was founded in a Copenhagen harbour in 1873, and is now owned by Carlsberg.
Tiger (also known as ‘Flying Tiger’) is a Danish retail company that made its way over to the UK and various other countries in the last few years. Think of it as a downsized IKEA: full of stationary, toys, kitchen utensils and various knick-knacks that you never knew you needed but now actually really want. Would highly recommend for when you’re looking for stocking fillers or small gifts for friends around Christmas.
“The only scissors worth having in your life” — Words from an actual Finn. Fiskars is a Finnish consumer goods company best known for its orange-handled scissors. Fiskars specialises in tools, and was founded way back in 1649 when there was a big surge in ironworks in Finland — making it one of the oldest businesses in the western world.
Kalevala Koru is the Finnish jewellery manufacturer. Based in Helsinki, they’re known for their unique, high-quality gold, silver and bronze jewellery and for mixing Lappish/Finnish heritage with modern design. A lot of their designs are centred around nature and their Finnish roots.
Marimekko is a Finnish design house based in Helsinki — they combine home furnishings, textiles, and fashion. They’re basically a founder of Finnish and Scandi design, and made huge contributions to fashion in the 1960s — Marimekko is known particularly for their bold prints and bright colours.
Finnish design brand specialising in glassware, design objects and tableware. Iittala were pioneers in their field and firmly believed in thoughtful, modern design that would be timeless and also long-lasting. They revolutionised the glassware scene in Finland.
Finnish company Lapuan Kankurit are known for their high-quality textiles and responsible, sustainable craftsmanship and production. They produce beautiful blankets, cushions and tea-towels and more, meant to be long-lasting family staples.
Suunto supplies extreme sports lovers around the world — their products are sold in over 100 countries. They specialise in sports watches, dive computers and compasses. The word ‘Suunto’ comes from the Finnish word meaning ‘direction’.
Sulapac is an exciting new Finnish startup. They’ve been winning countless awards in the last year for their plastic alternative eco-packaging. Their beautiful designs are biodegradable, toxin-free, have a low carbon footprint, and can be mass-produced. They’ve started collaborating with cosmetic companies and even Finnish big-name Fazer. Watch this space.
In the early 2000s, Nokia phones were the phone to have (everyone loved playing Snake, right?). Nokia is a Finnish technology, electronics and telecommunications company. They were actually founded back in 1865 (though they dealt more with things like pulp mills then).
A Finnish institution. These cute hippopotamus-like creatures are beloved to the Finnish — and other Nordic — nations, and one of their proudest exports. Illustrator Tove Jansson created the Moomins at the end of World War 2 — there are now 9 books, 5 picture books, various Moomin comic strips, TV series and films, and even a Moomin theme back in Naantali, Finland.
Finnish shoe designer, Minna Parikka is known for her playful shoe designs with distinctive colours and ‘bunny ears’. Minna’s designs are urban and often vegan. The brand’s flagship store is in Helsinki. https://www.minnaparikka.com/
Another Swedish clothing brand part-owned by H&M, specialising in affordable, cool clothes — particularly jeans — for teenagers and younger shoppers. Cheap Monday orginally started as a second-hand clothing store in a quite Stockholm suburb…
Everyone’s favourite flatpack furniture shop (with added meatballs). Founded in a small Swedish village in 1943, IKEA now have over XXXX stores in XXXX countries, where they sell affordable, well-designed quality furniture. Fun fact: the IKEA logo was originally white and red, but was changed to blue and yellow to represent the Swedish flag back in 1983.
House of Dagmar
Swedish fashion brand now sold in Harvey Nichols. Founded in 2005 by three sisters and based in Stockholm, House of Dagmar create expressive and timeless collections.
Short for ’We are the Superlative Conspiracy’. This Swedish clothing brand does mainly skateboarding and snowboarding fashion for men and women.
Swedish Acne Studios is a cool young company aimed at cool young people. Their collections are inspired by the founder Jonny Johannson’s ‘interest in photography, art, architecture and contemporary culture’.
Monki is a Swedish fashion chain aimed at young women. They’ve hit the UK now with their mix of ‘Scandi cool’ and the ‘energy of Asian street style’ (their words not ours, but it’s true). We love Monki here at Nordic Life — they hit the nail on the head with their on-trend clothes and accessories every time.
‘Fjällräven’ translates literally to ‘Arctic Fox,’ which is where this Scandi brand get its iconic logo from too. It was founded by Åke Nordin. You’ll probably recognise Fjällräven from the iconic Kånken rucksack which is now being worn by everyone and their nan, from hipsters to proper outdoor types to school kids. It’s a bloody good rucksack though.
Helly Hansen is a famous Norwegian outdoor wear brand. From hiking boots to parkas, this is the place to buy quality outdoor wear from for the winter. Great for anyone who loves skiing and being out in the snow.
Founded by Ole Christian Sandberg and Christopher Harlem, Voss water comes from Iveland. Coming from under deep layers of rock, this is one of the purest water brands in the world.
Flexible and practical chairs, carriers, and pushchairs for children. Stokke became famous for their flexible high chair design that grows with the developing child. High-quality wooden Scandinavian design that’s supremely practical.