Brand Scandi spotting – an occasional series (no.1)

I find it interesting to spot signage or products clearly stylised around the Scandinavian/Nordic “brand”.

Nordic Pantry range – Christmas 2013, Sainsbury’s Supermarket:

IMG_20131224_123827 IMG_20131224_123821

What makes this range Nordic then? Some thoughts: the red/silver/white colour scheme, the pattern on the packaging is reminiscent of that Faroese jumper worn by Sarah Lund in The Killing, they are hyggelige products too – a snuggly scarf (“snood”), mittens, handwarmers, hand cream. The name “Nordic Pantry” is interesting too – bringing to mind Scandi baking, cosy kitchens, a sense of “home”.

On-campus university refectory – Vim & Rigøur:


I can find surprisingly little info online about this re-brand: it certainly wasn’t called this in 2010 when I was previously a student, and on the uni website it’s still just called The Refectory. It’s all about the ø and the dark, moody colour scheme: the branding is trying to convey sophistication and an international flair (in keeping with the tagline: International Dining Rooms). The A-board sign outside (which I haven’t got a photo of) has a grey background with light writing, it has a very noir feel. This seems to be attaching itself to the Nordic “brand” without much else to back it up. The fare is the same as it has always been – pizza and pasta (from the, ahem, Trattoria), baguettes (ooh la la), a “world cuisine” counter, and a deli counter called Goodness Me (bless you!).

I’ll carry on spotting and post what I find on my travels – I would love it if you shared with me anything you’ve seen in the UK riffing on the Scandi brand!


Is anyone reading beyond Nordic Noir?

On the one hand:

1/4 of crime fiction readers had read a translated literary novel after reading a crime fiction novel from that language and 30% of those who hadn’t yet said they might in future: “One publisher supplied the metaphor of readers being ‘contaminated’ by their exposure to foreign crime novels and going on to explore foreign fiction in general as a result”.

(Engles, Paul. “Selling Ice to the Eskimos” Swedish Book Review, Issue 1 (2010), p38)

But on the other hand:

“The popular audience is not crossing over to elite foreign literature, where, it might be argued, a more incisive representation of foreign cultures is likely to be found, unconstrained by the generic demands made by crime writing”

(Venuti, L. The Translator’s Invisibility – a history of translation. London: Routledge, 2008 (2nd edition), p155)

So what’s it gonna be? Do readers of Scandi crime read any other genres in translation?

Nordic Noir event at All You Read Is Love pop-up cafe

My write-up of the informal panel discussion about Nordic literature and translation.

Nordic Noir: The Scandinavian Crime Book Club

Reading and Translating Nordic Literature and Nordic Noir to a Contemporary British Market

A rainy dark January evening in suburban London was an appropriate setting for discussion of Nordic literature and translation.

A panel discussion took place with UCL Scandinavian Studies PhD students Nicky Smalley, Anna Tebelius and Ellen Kythor led by senior lecturer in Scandinavian literature at UCL, Dr. Jakob Stougaard-Nielsen.

Each of the PhD students started by introducing the topic at the forefront of their minds in relation to the event’s title. For Ellen Kythor, this was the concept of Scandinavia as a “brand” as perceived by Brits, and how translators and publishers of popular novels may be creating and reinforcing the brand. Anna Tebelius discussed translation and art – her PhD project involves translating an experimental text from Swedish to English, and she has recently tried an artistic approach to translation using audio-recording equipment. Nicky Smalley’s PhD…

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As I mentioned in a previous post, I take each week as it comes, fitting in childcare, reading, time at university, writing, time with my partner, housework (hahaha, no… wait, I mean cooking – that’s as far as it goes), socialising. I thought I’d plot a short summary of a few days last week to give you an idea:


9am – groceries delivered; unpack with the baby’s able assistance

11am – early lunch at home

11.30am – leave for crèche in the hope the baby will nap en route; 11.40am – baby asleep!

1pm – arrive at crèche/workspace

1pm-4.30pm – I work on writing up my literature review based on what I’ve been reading/researching over the last few weeks; also read over my first literature review to prepare for tomorrow evening’s “translating Nordic literature” cafe event

6pm – go to the gym while partner eats tea with baby and puts her to bed

8.30pm – finish off written work by adding last page references and quotes from material I didn’t have with me earlier at the workspace; email document to PhD supervisors (feedback meeting arranged for next week)


10.30am – meet for coffee with local mum/baby group; see a teeny-weeny newborn and wonder when I should stop referring to our 15 month old (who has been walking for nearly 3 months) as “the baby”(!)

11.30am – clothes shopping for “the baby” on our walk home

1.30pm – childcare/study swap with mum friend at home: both babies nap in their prams in the hallway initially while we chat about our latest projects; when they wake up we each take turns (for around an hour) to look after both babies while the other takes her laptop upstairs to work at the desk

7pm – take part in “translating Nordic literature” panel discussion at pop-up cafe on the other side of town, write up here.


9.30am-11.30am – go to drop-in playgroup; see local mums/babies we know

12pm – lunch at local pub alone with baby

1pm-3pm – on laptop at home while baby naps: update list of books to read, look up where to find them in the library; admin bits like emails

A couple of weeks ago I used the workspace/crèche as a “crèche only” for the first time, when I left the baby and managed to pop up to uni for a few hours (only a half hour journey on the speedy Victoria line), so that was a bit of a milestone. We are still using my partner’s annual leave and help from my parents when we can, especially for occasions when I have commitments or meetings.

We almost always eat breakfast and tea (evening meal) together as a little family: the baby, my partner and I. Around that I take each day as it comes!