Janteloven: Scandinavian Social Conformity, IKEA, Minimalism, and The Socialism of Design

Başak R.

ARTS: Artuklu Sanat ve Beşeri Bilimler Dergisi, vol.0, no.6, pp.159-185, 2021 (Peer-Reviewed Journal)


Janteloven is a set of unspoken or hidden rules of conformity in Scandinavian societies, especially in Norway and Denmark. These rules, also called as Scandinavian Ten Commandments, were originated from a fiction novel, written in 1933 by Aksel Sandemose. Sandemose gathered, identified and described the unspoken Scandinavian nature of societal and conformity rules that he was highly critical about and stated the obvious with irony. Janteloven is commonly associated with some negative social behavioral traits as if Janteloven put a spell on Scandinavian people. It also was associated with some positive traits, Scandinavian design, IKEA and even Scandinavian social democratic life is associated with it. This study examines the stylistic characteristics of minimalism, Mid-20th Century Modern style, Scandinavian style, IKEA style and philosophies within their origins, and ideological associations. The study is designed as phenomenology; conceptual discourse analysis and content analysis methods were employed to analyze information. Design and ideology may influence each other reciprocally, and design trends may not be a coincidence. This study makes connections of how an egalitarian society ends up with minimalist design and IKEA philosophy using social conformity and Janteloven as vehicles.