Scandinavian at Heart on an Italian Adventure

Interview with Ingrid Opstad from ‘That Scandinavian Feeling’

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We love your beautiful scandi-chic aesthetic. Tell us more, what inspires you?

Thank you so much! I guess my aesthetic has always been there subconsciously because of my Scandinavian heritage – it is a part of my identity in many ways – but it has grown and evolved over time. When it comes to interior I would say I found my style when we moved to Italy and bought our first home. After years of renting, it was the first time in my life where I could finally decide exactly how I wanted things to be – even down to the layout of the home since we ended up tearing down walls and changing things up a lot. In a way being in Italy meant that it was very important to me to make my own home a little piece of Scandinavia and a cozy place to enjoy. When I am in my apartment it makes me feel like I am back home in Norway but when I step outside I am yet again in Italy, and I love that mix. I would say I take a lot of inspiration from browsing through Pinterest, Instagram, magazines and books, but also from wandering around shops and my surroundings. I like to just have a walk with Bowie and let inspiration sink in from everything I see around me whether that is the colours of nature or textures and patterns I discover. 

Are you a planner & list maker or more of a go-with-the-flow type of person?

Can I say both? It depends a bit on my mood that day because sometimes I am very organised with lists and plans, but many times I take a more spontaneous approach. I think it comes down to being a creative individual because you can try your best to plan and organise but you will never know when or how that creativity will hit you. So for me, going with the flow and taking the day as it comes is most of the time the better option. But I usually have plans and lists either in my head or written down, it is just whether I stick to that in the end which is the question… 

What does your dream day look like?

My dream day is a calm, relaxing and hyggelig day with my fiancé Claudio and our dog Bowie – pretty much how most our weekends look like. It would start with a lie-in (which usually means that Bowie comes to snuggle up in between us) and a slow breakfast at home where I make pancakes for us all (Bowie gets mini pancakes). Then a walk either in nature or in town, as long as it involves fresh air. I love to head towards the beautiful lakes or mountains here in north Italy because it reminds me of Norway in many ways, but I also enjoy seeing little typical Italian villages or having a stroll in larger cities like Milan and eat a traditional Italian lunch. The perfect way to end the day is back home with a dinner made by Claudio who is an excellent cook before we get cozy on the sofa watching our favourite tv series or a film with a glass of wine. It is all about those little things in life and being together, which is something I have realised even more this year. 

What’s your advice to other creatives who have an idea that they would like to pursue?

My main advice is simply: go for it and don’t wait! It took me a long time to start the blog and a lot of trial and error, in the beginning, to get it to how I wanted it to be. But the best way to learn is by doing, and if you keep putting something off or waiting for the perfect time it might never happen.

You recently launched your own YouTube channel. Why did you choose this method for your blog's expansion? Did you find this easy to do? What were/are your challenges?

I love writing, it has always been a passion of mine and a love that grew from the moment I started the blog. With the craziness of this year and the loss of writing opportunities and work during lockdown, I was looking at ways to expand my brand and at the same time challenge myself to step outside my comfort zone. When I stepped back and looked at what I do myself to feel calm in this situation, I realised that I was watching more videos on YouTube because it is a nice way to escape reality and feel less alone. There is something different when you can hear someone talk rather than just read their words, and in many ways, it is a way to connect even deeper with the audience. Since I had a lot more time on my hand I decided to try making videos myself and ended up spending a whole weekend baking cinnamon buns and filming it with my fiancé which was so much fun but a lot of hard work. He is a very technical guy so he helped me with how to use the camera for video and editing, even though this was all new to him too but he learned by doing it. The next video I filmed and edited all by myself which was more challenging, but slowly I am learning and getting better. Video-based content is very different from writing and still images, so it has taken me a while to get the hang of it but I am not finding it as difficult as I thought it would be. I guess the biggest challenge for me now is the technical parts of filming on my own because I have to set up the camera and make sure it will focus on the right part while I go in front of the camera. I also find the days are so short, and trying to juggle writing on the blog, taking photos, walking the dog and housework while also filming is hard.. but I need to prioritise filming more because I do enjoy it a lot. And the best part is that I have had so many lovely comments from people saying they find comfort in watching my videos or listening to my voice – because that was my goal.

We know that you are proudly Scandinavian, However, what do the Italians do better?

The longer I live in Italy, the more I appreciate the fact that Italians are great at approaching life with a relaxed mind. They are masters of slow life and simply enjoying moments to the fullest. I always come back to ‘la dolce vita’, in a way the Italian equivalent to hygge. Or even to the more extreme; the saying ‘dolce far niente’ – the essence of doing nothing and enjoying it. I think we can all learn a bit from the Italians about stressing less and enjoying life with all its sweetness.

What surprised you most about the Italian lifestyle/culture after moving there? And which cliché is not true at all?

I guess what surprised me the most is how similar the Italian lifestyle and culture is to Scandinavian because both are deeply rooted in family values and the importance of being together whether that is to enjoy a meal or enjoying each others company. Before I met my fiancé Claudio (9 years ago on the dancefloor in a nightclub in London) I had never met any Italians or even been to Italy so it was a culture and country I didn’t have much experience with. But I really like the way people here are very open and friendly – I always end up chatting with people on the street or at a cafe which would not happen as much in Norway, because us Scandinavians are a bit more reserved in some ways. 

When it comes to clichés, one of the things that are not true at all is that Italians only eat pasta and pizza. I have discovered that Italian cuisine is so much more than that, and I am still finding new flavours and dishes even now after being here for more than 4 years.

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What are your future dreams for 'That Scandinavian Feeling'?

I have a few dreams for That Scandinavian Feeling, some that I am working on now behind the scenes and some that are further in the future. I want to keep evolving the brand and try new things – but my main goal will always be to help people find that Scandinavian feeling wherever they are in the world whether it is through my writing, video-based content or products. So all I can say is keep your eyes peeled – because I might be launching some exciting new things later this year 😉 

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