How minimalism and danes wearing black is related?
Updated: Jan 8, 2020
As soon as I arrived to Denmark for the first time, I felt something was out of place, and technically was not me, it was not being blonde and tall neither, but my light blue shiny south american jacket along all the “blackness” around me. Who could imagined? I mean, all my knowledge about Denmark was limited to Vikings, wars and maybe about some cultural movements, but never about dress codes.
Why danish people wear black then?. Was my question for a long while, and I got many different answers. Some of them relating black to the practicality to being combined, some others relating this phenomenon to weather. And both are reasonable reasons though, but wasn't until I heard about the laws of Jante that something just clicked. The Jante’s laws, are a code of conduct followed by a fictional town called Jante in the book ‘’En flyktning krysser sitt spor’’ wrote by Aksel Sandemose in 1933. These codes, are coming from way before, but become a stronger cultural symbol of Scandinavian countries later on, and what they basically speak about is, how a person shouldn't feel superior to others. Despite of agreeing or not, society still works in a way over these codes, and an example I found about this was the dressing code people follows, sometimes without acknowledging the reason they are doing that, as usually happens.
So, Can we related this behavior to other aspects in life?. Of course. we usually hear phrases like ‘’people dresses in the way they feel’’, and in this case, black is not about dark feelings, but about sobriety and equity.
So the next question would be then, is this related with design? And what brought me to this country in first place (taking out all the randomness of life) was my curiosity about Scandinavian design. I'm not an expert about it and I probably won't be, but little by little I started to understand it. Products, as clothing, have the characteristic of speak for themselves. They, through their morphology, functionality and technology, (and by technology I mean, materials, techniques, production, components, etc) express locations, ideologies, time and a whole cultural background. Everything, from a viking helmet, to the screws of this train’s chair I'm sitting right now.
Then, how is this related with minimalism? well, after reading about the laws of Jante, understanding about the concepts of sobriety and equity that are fully visible in the danish culture, It's not a surprise why Scandinavian design is so related with the terms of minimalism and simplicity, and even though I haven’t learned much about Scandinavian design in itself, what I have learned is that is easy to have quick thoughts and judge without acknowledging other’s cultures and backgrounds but is not until you go to that place, and you soak up in their culture, that you can actually understand people’s ideas and decisions.