Five of the best things to come out of Sweden
Posted 31 March 2016
Over the years, Sweden has given the UK and the rest of the world plenty to think about. A nation with beautiful scenery, an idyllic lifestyle and a strong cultural identity, there is much to be admired about the Scandinavian country. Here are just five of the amazing things that Sweden has given us over the years.
One of the more recent cultural exports to come from Sweden is the increasingly popular Scandinavian noir genre of literature. The books that arguably started our fascination with blood, snow and corruption are those of the Stieg Larrson's Millennium Trilogy, which kicked off with The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.
Larsson wrote three Millennium books before he died abruptly aged 50, but the series was adapted into a series of Swedish language films and one Hollywood production. Since then a string of imitators have emerged, but the public's hunger for more Lisbeth Salander eventually resulted in David Lagercrantz penning a fourth chapter in the story.
This one really goes without saying. Who doesn't love a good sauna? Even a bad sauna is more relaxing and enjoyable than most other past-times. Whether it’s an extremely stressful day at work, family troubles or just an excuse to unwind and enjoy some quiet time in the heat, nothing relieves stress and flushes toxins away like a sauna.
Is there anything more synonymous with Sweden than ABBA? Much as The Beatles have been woven into the fabric of British music, so Agnetha, Benny, Björn and Anni-Frid have become the unofficial national band of Sweden. The group's domination of Eurovision and string of top ten and top 40 hits made them household names, with Super Trooper, The Winner Takes It All, Waterloo et al, remaining steadily popular for decades. You’ll still hear them all over the airwaves, courtesy of Smooth Radio.
A mix of danceable beats, catchy choruses and a love of good old fashioned cheesy pop have seen the ABBA discography continue to sell in big numbers, which in turn gave us the much-loved musical and film, Mamma Mia.
Perhaps the only thing in recent times that comes close to ABBA in a contest for the most famous Swedish export, IKEA reigns supreme in the world of decking out the home. The first destination in affordable, unfussy furniture for students, new couples and burgeoning business enterprises everywhere, IKEA takes the stress out of choosing stylish and durable furniture.
The stores themselves, usually gigantic blue and yellow tributes to the Swedish flag, even go so far as to introduce a one-way system so that you can't possibly get lost. That doesn't mean that you can't lose a whole afternoon wandering through the departments selecting the perfect fixtures and fittings mind you, but at least you know you can always find your way out. And don’t forget everyone’s guilty pleasure: the meatballs, lingonberry sauce and almondy cake.
Sweden is inherently cool. But perhaps more importantly is the common sense and intelligence that accompanies their approach to everything from seating to house building. The Swedes are world leaders in sustainable design and their innovative blend of uncluttered comfort and energy efficient technologies makes their homes a pleasure to live in.
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