With one half of our founding team based in Minnesota, we feel a strong connection to and love for this unique part of the country. Although traditionally known for its cold, snowy winters, stunning landscape, and year-round embrace of the great outdoors, this northern territory is also home to a thriving creative community of industrious and highly skilled talent. And with extraordinary talents like Eric Dayton of Askov Finlayson leading the charge, Minnesota and its neighbors in the beautiful American North are taking the design world by storm.
Along with his brother, Andrew Dayton, Eric has perfectly captured the essence of this special region in the carefully crafted and curated Askov Finlayson brand. We're so in love with their nature-loving, adventure-awaits aesthetic that we knew we had to find a way to translate it into wallpaper. The result is quintessentially hygge with a distinctly northern midwest twist. We caught up with Eric to find out a little bit more about what inspired these designs, how he finds hygge during cold Minnesota winters, and more.
Hygge & West: When we think of Askov Finlayson, we think of the rugged outdoors and all things north, both of which are represented in your new H&W patterns, Snow and Wood. Why did you choose these particular motifs and what inspired the color ways?
Eric Dayton: Knowing that this collaboration would come out in February, I started with our winters for inspiration. I wanted one design that represented the cold, and then one that represented warmth. Both came from a very nostalgic place for me, drawing on childhood memories of snow days and roaring fires. And it's the same experience of growing up in Minnesota, and living here now, that inspires Askov Finlayson. Anyone who has been to our flagship store in Minneapolis might notice other connections, like the deep teal blue of our store's millwork that we used for one of the stacked wood colorways.
H&W: How do you envision your wallpapers being used? Who is the person you had in mind when designing them?
ED: When my wife and I recently moved, we designed our new home together. And there were plenty of conversations about wallpapers and fabrics she liked, but that felt too feminine to me. So I thought about guys like me when developing these patterns, but also my wife. I wanted something that would appeal to women, but that would feel relevant to the guy at the same time. And I think we struck that balance.
H&W: Mother nature is the ultimate pattern player - some of the most beautiful designs can be found in the great outdoors! What clues from nature do you think people can take when using pattern at home, in their wardrobe, etc.?
ED: Too often people are afraid of layering pattern, but if you look at the world around us, it's layer upon layer of color and texture. One of my favorite sources of inspiration is the design firm Svenkst Tenn in Stockholm, which is famous for the work of Josef Frank. Most of his patterns are inspired by nature, and they manage to be bold and elegant at the same time.
H&W: We love how you've taken the concept of the North as a geographical location and turned it into a symbol for hard work, creativity, and embracing the outdoors all year long. What is it about that cold Minnesota air that you think breeds creativity?
ED: There's an old adage that creativity is born out of constraint, and I think our Northern culture is a great example of that. There's something about living in a place that presents you with challenges that brings out the best in people, which in Minnesota manifests itself as creative thinking, work ethic, and a sense of camaraderie. I can't imagine living anywhere else.
H&W: 'Hygge' (pronounced hoo-ga) is a Danish word that loosely translates to 'cozy.' As one of the North's biggest proponents, what small pleasures, treasures, or places bring hygge into your (often snowy) world?
ED: I'm very lucky to have a wood-burning sauna at home, and it's one of my favorite places in the world. When I go inside and close the door, I'm completely transported. The combination of intense heat and total silence is very powerful; it clears the mind as well as the body.