6 Swedish trends Australians love

Pop group ABBA

Blanche Clark

Posted November 10, 2021

From ABBA to Volvo, here are just some of the Swedish exports Australians now can’t live without. 

Swedish super troupers Abba have a new album out, and it’s providing some much-needed feel-good nostalgia to bookend a year we would rather forget.

ABBA’s renowned brand of perky pop is also a reminder of the many Swedish trends that have been adopted across the globe, including here in Australia. Whether it’s our willingness to assemble our own furniture, our love of sticky cinnamon buns or lagom (pronounced ‘lah-gum’), these Swedish trends have become part of our lives.

Trend-setting Swedes

ABBA revival

The return of ABBA is being hailed as one of the biggest events in pop music in recent decades. The Swedish group, who devastated fans when they disbanded 40 years ago, are back with a new album, Voyage

But the truth is, they never went away. The timeless appeal of ABBA’s songs has put them in the same category as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, and their catchy compilations have influenced a new generation of musicians and songwriters. Their new single, Just a Notion, is set to become a road-trip anthem as we get ready for summer holidays and interstate travel.

DIY desire

It’s more than 50 years since IKEA reached our shores, first in Sydney in 1975, then in the Melbourne suburb of Moorabbin in 1986. Since then, it has become the go-to store for affordable furnishings that reflect Scandi-inspired minimalist living.

Despite the furniture being sold in flat-packs, and many couples nearly separating after failing to assemble a sofa hasn’t stopped us filling our homes with IKEA products. Over the years, IKEA has teamed up with top designers to keep enticing us to splurge on accessories rather than necessities. The latest is the Karismatisk collection by UK fashion designer Zandra Rhodes – comprised of whacky vases and pink satin cushions; don’t be surprised to receive these from your Kris Kringle.

Cinnamon buns and fika

Soft and chewy with a buttery cinnamon-sugar filling, the traditional Swedish kanelbullar has become a staple in Australian cafes and patisseries. The cinnamon bun also goes hand-in-hand with another Swedish tradition - fika. Fika is about making time for a cuppa and bite to eat with friends, family or colleagues.

The Inner West Swedish Baker in West Footscray embodies both these concepts, with not only cinnamon buns and coffee but an amazing array of Swedish sweets and savouries. In Windsor, you’ll find Oppen with Scandi delicacies such as scrambled eggs with cured salmon, preserved veggies, fetta and rye, and ham hock hash with sauerkraut, leek, poached eggs and chipotle hollandaise. For Swedish meatballs, head to an IKEA food hall.

Couple assembling flat-pack furniture

 The challenge of assembling flat-pack furniture hasn't stopped Australians embracing stores such as IKEA . Image: Getty.

Introducing lagom

You may not be familiar with the term lagom, which translates to ‘not too little, not too much’, but the need to slow down and find the right work-life balance has been highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Swedish philosophy, lagom is about finding balance and establishing a lifestyle based on social awareness, moderation and sustainability. It includes creating more time for family and finding solutions to work stress.

At home, lagom is reflected in eco-friendly practices such as the installation of solar power and taking advantage of natural light. Furniture and furnishing are made of sustainable materials, and there is less clutter to help create a relaxing environment. Add a few plants and you’ve introduced lagom into your life. 

Volvo recharge

Long plagued in Australia by the phrase “bloody Volvo driver”, which insinuated that Volvo owners had no regard for other drivers on the road, Volvo launched a satirical advertising campaign in 2003 to address the image problem. It worked, and Australians now see the Volvo as a stylish alternative to German prestige cars.

As a pioneer in safety, Volvo was the first car manufacturer to install airbags in 1987. Now out of lockdown and free to hit the open road once more, new car buyers are embracing Volvo. According to industry sales figures, Volvo experienced a 32.3 per cent sales increase in 2021 (to the end of October) compared to the previous year. Meanwhile, Volvo’s first ever fully electric vehicle, the XC40 Recharge Pure Electric, has had its 2021 allocation sold out prior to launch in Australia.

Nordic Noir

Swede Stieg Larsson’s novel  The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo kickstarted the Nordic crime fiction trend in 2005, and interest in the genre shows no signs of abating. During COVID-19 lockdowns, there were more than a dozen Nordic Noir series on Netflix alone, including the acclaimed new series The Chestnut Man (although that series is produced in Denmark). The hallmarks of Nordic Noir are bleak settings, violent crimes, complex plots, and deeply troubled detectives.

If you’re looking for a gripping beach read these Christmas holidays, try Camilla Läckberg’s new novel, Silver Tears, about a businesswoman who flees her home after her violent husband gets out of prison. For a good crime series, consider Sjöwal & Wahlöö’s Martin Beck series or Asa Larsson’s books about lawyer Rebecka Martinsson.