Sound the alarms… it’s smackdown time, Scandinavian style! We asked two of our favorite Norwegians – Genevieve and the Sweet Paul – to create a holiday tablescape that represented what Scandi means to them. And while the basics were the same – natural materials, warm neutrals, clean lines – the results couldn’t be more different. It’s like a ‘Who wore it better?’ for the table. Check out their final designs below, then take to social media to let us know who you think won the battle by using #RealGenevieve.





How important is your Norwegian heritage for you?
Well, it’s half of me and very much a part of where I grew up. I’ve always been told that I looked so much like my Croatian side that I think as a kid, I distanced myself from it a bit, never quite fitting into the mold aesthetically (only in Minnesota right?). When I moved to New York as a 19 year old, I felt all of my roots for the first time. I would look for tall blondes and aggressively ask if they were Scandinavian? Minnesotan? It was some sort of quest to tribe out. I realized all that I treasured and took pride in as being so “Minnesotan” was truly just “Scandinavian” and incredibly unique.

Do you think it’s influenced your designs at all?
Yes, very much so. There is no coincidence that Minneapolis is an art/design super power and is also the most Scandinavian city in the US. I seem to gravitate to the palettes and negative space that is so representative of my roots. It’s really the pauses, the breaks in pattern, and color isn’t it? This is the genius of this part of the world – they give great pause, like the perfect song. The Norwegian aesthetic has been fueling my rugs, rooms, and products for years. 2015 is the year of the Nordic… let’s rage.

What are your biggest inspirations?
Travel is my school. It’s where it can take off what I know, all of my calluses, and feel like a kid again. That’s when our imagination is on full volume. As a designer, I need these sponging, humbled moments in order to give new and keep creating. My roots are a huge part of this… they’ve shaped how I see and how I process.

What’s your best table-setting tip?
Know the rules so you can break them. Be sure to anticipate what people need, but make them feel like it’s effortless and relaxed so they linger. Don’t match, play.

What are the steps to recreating this look at home?
I always encourage people to be inspired by what I make and do their own version. Tweak it, make it yours. Use your backyard as your art store: pull branches, dead leaves, firewood and start playing. Rope, deconstructed table linens, and nets make great table runners because if there is anything that Scandinavia is truly about, it’s the sea. Oh and moss! Don’t forget to play with moss.


What’s Christmas like in Minnesota?
Aesthetically, it’s the Christmas you dream of: banks of white snow, diamonds in the trees, and chimneys puffing away. My family, however, is probably the antithesis of the Rockwellian portrait we all have. We are dancers, musicians, actors, teachers, and designers, live all over the world, and also being very Croatian tend to talk, laugh, and over-explain everything very loudly. When we all get together for Christmas we are pretty much an instaparty, which always leads to getting sick of yelling and just turning on some Motown, Prince, or Cajun music and letting it rip. My grandpa is the master of ceremonies… he can dance. There is always a huge pile of krumkake on the table, Croatian wines, and Minnesota wild rice. We are a melting pot of where we’re from and where we live. Keeps it interesting.

What’s your favorite holiday memory?
Christmas Eve is our big family party night at my grandma’s house. We all get dressed. It’s about looking fine and being your fancy self at the beginning of the night. All 15-20 of us would gather at her house when I was a kid and the adults would have cocktails while the kids would play records to make them all dance. Charades, talent shows, and lots of food would always follow and then we’d wind down with more dancing and midnight mass. These are my favorite memories, Christmas Eve at my grandma’s.

Who would be your dream dinner guests, living or dead?
Prince, D’Angelo, Questlove, Sweet Paul, my daughter, Queen Elsa, Erykah Badu, Xavier Guardans, and Pharell.

Recreate this look! Gen’s table source list: runner – Anthropologie | flatware – West Elm | plates – Marimekko | pitcher – The Cleveland Flea | wood chargers – Jamali | black bird – Ingebretsen’s | cast iron pan – Lodge | white platters – Williams Sonoma | table – David DeSantis | candleholders – Family hand-me-downs




What inspired this particular tablescape?
I wanted to bring the nature in and make it a table for the senses. I wanted to keep it simple with white plates, linen napkins, and of course my jam jars as glasses. I don’t know why, but I hate glasses with stems. In my home, I serve everything from coffee to cocktails and even champagne in jam jars.

Why makes this tablescape Scandinavian holiday?
For me, Scandi holiday is so much more about the senses, smell, taste, and just being together. Growing up, I remember big wooden bowls of oranges, apples, cinnamon, and pinecones. We would throw cinnamon sticks into the fireplace to give our room that amazing smell.

What are the steps to recreating this look at home?
The easiest is the pie tins that I filled with wet moss and just put what screams holiday to me: apples, pinecones, red berries, fir, and of course candles.


What’s one tip to keep in mind when recreating this tablescape or any holiday table?
I like things to be really simple. I think it’s because I see so many colors, patterns, and textures in my everyday job that I long for the simple. So keep it simple, use the things you love… that way you can’t go wrong.

What’s Christmas like in Norway?
Lots of snow, great food, very festive, and bright.

What’s your favorite holiday memory?
I think the year we were not going to have any snow for the holidays. I was so worried and longed for snow. My parents knew it would snow on the night of Christmas Eve but didn’t tell me. I can still remember the feeling of my mother waking me up really early and opening the windows. It was all white. It was such happiness.

Recreate this look! Paul’s table source list: napkins and wood cut-outs – Crate & Barrel | jam jars – Bon Maman | pie tins and ironstone plates – vintage


Read more about Paul ‘Sweet Paul’ Lowe in this Noddies post.