Minneapolis Style: A Little Cozy, A Little Scandi-Cool

January 31, 2018

The Super Bowl hits Minneapolis this Sunday, but that’s not the only reason we’re paying attention to the Midwestern city. Several home design spots and trends are making the case for Minneapolis being a new American style hub.

This past fall, The Wall Street Journal named Minneapolis one of the most worthwhile travel destinations in the world. It’s great timing, because thousands of people are heading there this weekend for the Super Bowl — and clearly, the city’s got much more to offer than just football. Minneapolis has been gaining serious traction in the food, style, and travel arenas, with website after blog after magazine declaring it a must-visit.

With this half of the Twin Cities in the spotlight, we’re paying new attention to its aesthetic and its shopping scene. What is the Minneapolis look, mood, and spirit? What places and trends define them? You might be surprised to find out just how much personality Minneapolis style packs in a rustic or minimalist or candy-colored punch. Minnesotan brands are leading the charge toward Scandi-centric purism, for one thing, made especially authentic by the humility, creativity, and work ethic that makers and artisans there possess. Minneapolis designers are throwing it back to quality craftsmanship over the interior decorating answer to fast fashion. The stunning natural beauty around the city and state is getting woven into the furniture and accents. And don’t get us started on the vibrant hues popping up.

We got in touch with one of the city’s most buzzed-about makers, Araya Jensen of Willful Goods. Designer of hand-dipped wooden bowls, color-pop baskets, texturally rich throw pillows, and more, Jensen knows a thing or five about why all the Minneapolis fanfare is actually overdue.

Scandi Cool

Minnesota’s Scandinavian roots are showing themselves in the most stylish and modern ways, cementing the area’s status as an Ambassador to the U.S. for that clean chic that the Danes and Swedes do so well.

“I think the trend has been toward minimalism, form and function with beautiful Minnesota brands like Hackwith Design House, Winsom Goods, and Askov Finlayson, but I like to think that there is also room for more urban brands that introduce colorful, diverse style,” Jensen says.

Focus on Craftsmanship

“I love the trend toward 'new north' or Scandi modern...whatever you want to call it, clean lines and smaller but customized homes, where instead of focusing on cheap materials and giant spaces, it is becoming commonplace to see quality craftsmanship and custom features,” Jensen says. “I spent 12 years in home design and remodeling and I am happy to see this trend becoming mainstream, hopefully, thanks to Sarah Susanka (Minnesota transplant) and The Not So Big House revolution, among others.”

Going hand-in-hand with the Scandi-cool trend, this harkening back to quality over speed, ease, and cheapness has brought a sense of sophisticated, cozy artfulness to Minneapolis design. Instead of lots of stuff filling a space, every element is thoughtfully created and positioned.

The Great Outdoors

“I love [Minneapolis’s] resilience and enthusiasm for the outdoors,” Jensen says. “No matter the weather (-10 to +90 degrees Fahrenheit), there are always people out enjoying the trails, parks and lakes, and appreciating the beauty that we have in any season.”

The scenery surrounding Minneapolis is unique in its natural beauty, so designers don’t have to look far for inspiration. The varying tones of the outdoors in different seasons can be found in color palettes, patterns, and textures, all with an emphasis on nature. Jensen explains Willful’s collections aim to capture the spirit of Minnesota in feel and hue.

“I am always trying to set a mood and often it is directly related to what is going on around me. I think that the simplicity of my products is an ode to nature — an appreciation for natural goods, letting the natural wood grain shine and using color as a complement but not overpowering [the wood].”

Color, Color, and More Color

“For years, minimalism was just black, white and grey, but a bright yellow door inviting you into the space or a bold green accent wall adds personality,” Jensen notes. “Bring on the color!”

Often when we think of aesthetics like modern minimalism and Scandinavian cool, we think monochrome and neutral. According to Jensen (and even a brief browse through some other local designers), one of the ways Minneapolis is putting its own stamp on a classic look is with color. Jensen explains that bright pigments warm up the designs and the spaces they’re in, perfect for kicking winter blues.

“If you look around, every house is white, grey, or some form of beige. In the summer, it really isn’t even noticeable since we have so much color in our natural surroundings (blue water, green trees) but the lack of color tends to weigh on me in the winter. Grey skies, dirt-covered snow...So, fresh flowers in February (tulips) and some pops of color inside do the job.”

Araya's Favorite Design Stores in Minneapolis

Forage Modern Workshop

Forage Modern Workshop

“Now an indie staple in the Twin Cities, they have created a beautiful space for local artisans and the newest up and coming artists,” Jensen says.

Forage Modern Workshop Store Director Rebekah Cook on the coolest thing about her city's style: “What I love most about the Minneapolis vibe is that when you really look, it’s so completely different from the stereotype. There are so many artists and creatives consistently pushing the envelope and the community of people who make up our city is so multicultural and eclectic, it’s truly beautiful.”

Spring Finn & Co.

Spring Finn & Co.

“Not sure if there is a word to define Talin's style besides COOL. Her beautiful line of leather goods has led her to a beautiful new shop including her international collection of home goods, and if that isn't impressive, she has jazz nights!” Jensen explains.

Spring Finn & Co. owner Talin Spring on the coolest thing about Minneapolis style: “Interiors are cozy, welcoming but not ostentatious, and people are very appreciative of locally and ethically-made pieces. What I personally like most in the city is the estate sales where one can find beautiful pieces if willing to spend the time.”

Blu Dot

Blu Dot

Jensen says: “I’m obsessed with their modern simplicity and use of color.”

Medora Danz, SVP of Blu Dot Brand, on the coolest thing about the city's style: “We don’t mind that Minneapolis is often considered flyover territory. We like to keep it humble, while maintaining a quiet confidence that where we live and work is special. Being off the radar has its advantages. We get to buckle down and focus on our own work with less distraction and influence of global trend and whim. Not to mention the general Minnesotan assertion that cold weather fuels creativity. The desire to be straightforward and useful is something that we strive for in our designs and the same can be said of Minneapolis.”



“I work with wood, but Scott takes the beauty of wood and takes it to the next next level,” Jensen says.

Woodsport owner Scott McGlasson on the coolest thing about Minneapolis style: “There is a Scandinavian vibe here. Not just heritage, which is very strong, but in attitude as well. People have an understated humility—they don’t like to show off, but at the same time, they want you to notice and appreciate their style. I find people here drawn to smart, clean, modern decor that is of high quality and has subtle but thoughtful detailing.”

Being off the radar has its advantages. We get to buckle down and focus on our own work with less distraction and influence of global trend and whim.
Medora Danz, Blu Dot

Are you familiar with the Minneapolis design scene? Share your favorite stops and shops with us below!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • BerryBaby
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Courtney Iseman

Written by: Courtney Iseman


BerryBaby February 1, 2018
As a teenager I use to take the midnight train from Chicago to Minneapolis to visit my sister and her family. Downtown Minneapolis is beautiful. Always loved the lakes and natural beauty. Their state fair is amazing every kind of crazy food you can imagine! Andrew Zimmer did a special on the state fair (his home state). If get the opportunity to see it in rerun it’s worth watching. You’ll be craving an Elephant ear or sausage on a stick!
Nancy M. January 31, 2018
While I appreciate the love that Minneapolis is gaining for doing nothing more than hosting a football game I highly recommend St. Paul, where I live. It is a beautiful city with a fascinating history. We have wonderful restaurants, parks and neighborhoods. People who live in Minneapolis always make a big deal out of their occasional visits to St. Paul, as though they are Lewis and Clark setting out to discover the unknown. We who live in St. Paul think they are ridiculous.