How Cultural Values Influence Similar Aesthetics in UX & Product Design | by Zacharia Curtis | Aug, 2023

At first glance, Scandinavian and Japanese minimal design aesthetics appear similar — both embodying stripped-down, essential looks. However, when you dig deeper into these styles, distinct differences appear representing their unique cultural philosophies and values.

This article explores how cultural values shaped this effect, understanding how digital products can create experiences that tap into specific perspectives.

Scandinavian design is recognisable worldwide for its minimalism and functionality, which stems directly from long-held cultural values.

Scandinavian cultures place importance on the concept of ‘Hygge’, which follows the principles of cosiness, familiarity, and intimacy. Entwined with Hygge is ‘Lagom’, which promotes balance, moderation, and contentment.

These values manifest in product design that evokes warmth and welcome through:

  • Natural textures and muted, earthy colour palettes
  • Inviting, organic shapes and proportions
  • Use of natural lighting and lots of white space

This idea of closeness is also considered to be one with nature, hence designs tend to incorporate naturalistic elements such as wood grains, wool textiles and ceramics, connecting users to the natural world of the scandi aesthetic.

The natural richness balanced with a cultural desire for functionality and utility forms the famous Scandi simplism, a total 360 from high ornamentation styles.

This cultural view is seen similarly in Scandinavian digital experiences, emphasising usability, familiarity, warmth, and seamless workflows. For example:

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