The question has been poking at my brain for a while.
When I moved to Copenhagen from Caracas via London, back in 2013, the perceived Nordicness of everything around me was so evident — so distinct from what I had experienced before — that I didn’t contest it. I just marvelled at the novelty of it all. But now that I have gotten used to the sleek shapes and the clean lines, the thrilling crime mysteries and the colourful plastic bricks, the ready-to-assemble furniture and the audacious food and the oversized knitted jumpers, I have been wondering what lies under the surface, beyond the superficial similarities.
What’s the connection between this part of the world and its most innovative ideas? I have been thinking about it and I haven’t yet been able to put my finger on it, so I’m doing what anyone with a bit of spare time would do: I’m going to try finding out.
That’s right, this month I’m setting off on a year-long adventure across Scandinavia to explore the concept of Nordic creativity. To begin with, I will be travelling through Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, talking to artists, scientists, educators, designers, musicians, politicians, researchers, and entrepreneurs, to fill in some of the gaps and get a better grasp of the attitudes and forces that shape creative thinking in the region and make the Nordics one of the most vibrant, dynamic and creative cultural centres in the world.
The task at hand is ambitious and its scope overwhelming. The are endless angles to tackle it from, my understanding of the various aspects of Nordic culture and society is highly questionable, and my tolerance to low temperatures and alcohol is truly pathetic, but perhaps these shortcomings do not matter much; perhaps I will thrive under constraints and in the face of adversity, just like creativity does.
My hope is that, in an effort to immerse myself in the culture of these countries, I will end up meeting some extraordinary people and discovering all manner of interesting stuff, so you might want to tag along on Instagram and here on Medium, where I will be sharing photos, short interviews, behind-the-scene videos, and whatever else that catches my eyes and ears.
Before I set off on my quest, I’d like to bring to your attention these timely words by John O’Donohue, who during a conversation with John Quinn back in 1997, said:
“One of the reasons that we wonder is because we are limited, and that limitation is one of the great gateways to wonder.”
Now, where should I start?
In my head, there is only one place. I should start this journey at a coffee shop.