Although very multicultural (we are now somewhere in the 50s in terms of nationalities), Opera is at its heart very Scandinavian (or should that be Nordic?). Its co-founder and CEO is from Iceland (not strictly Scandinavia, but historically part of Norway, then Denmark), our headquarters are in Oslo Norway, and are extremely talented Opera Mini team are next door in Linköping, Sweden. The working culture is also very Scandinavian, which makes it a fun and rewarding place to work.
Due to this, and living here (when I'm not away on duty) I've a natural interest in the Scandinavian design scene. Scandinavia (I'll include the other Nordic regions including Iceland and Finland, though not strictly correct) is very blessed when it comes to art and design of all disciplines. One interesting site is Life is Carbon, that showcases a lot of artistic talent from the region. Music is an area which I particularly love, where there is so much to pick from, including the likes of
Abba (how do I double del?) The Concretes (SE), Shout Out Louds (SE), The Legends (SE), The Radio Dept. (SE), Flunk (NO), 120 Days (NO), Mew (DK), Sigur Rós (IS) and many many more.
With fashion we have a strong local scene that are getting acclaim internationally. There are brands from the quirky Moods of Norway, to Nudie Jeans, Björn Borg, J. Lindeberg, Tiger of Sweden and Filippa K. The powerhouse that is H&M is also doing for fashion what Ikea did for furniture. You can check up on the latest street fashions in Oslo at Oslo Stil and check out for the links for related sites around the Nordics.
Of course Ikea dominates in low cost stylish interior design, and the Scandinavian minimal ascetic is famous all over the world. In consumer electronics you have the likes of (Sony) Ericsson and B&O. Even in the drinks market, there are companies as stylish as Absolut, and even Carlsberg. Where is all leading? Well it clear that there is plenty of design talent in the region, and aesthetics are held highly. but there doesn't really seem to be much of a web design movement of such, at least in the standards world where I operate. Maybe it is just because I don't speak Norwegian, Swedish or Danish? The only conference I've been at in the area is Reboot in Copenhagen (which is a great conference but isn't too much about design), and there is limited Barcamps and Mobile Mondays in Sweden, Denmark and Finland. None in Norway that I could see.
There are clearly people interested in web design and web standards here. Opera has its own designers, including Fredrik Andersson, Truls Haugland, Janne Rud Hanson and there are the likes of Roger Johansson, Robert Nyman and Tommy Olsson. The very popular CSS framwork, Blueprint was written by a Norwegian student, Olav Bjørkøy and a quick look on the A list apart archives finds the likes of Pär Almqvist and Søren Madsen. Who could also forget the co-father of CSS, and Opera's very own Håkon Wium Lie. So, I personally think it is ripe for something to happen over here. There is a lot of knowledge that could be shared, and a lot of ideas that could be dreamt up. It'd be great to have some sort of meet-ups like the goof folks over in Australia have with the WSG or what Dan Cederholm organised recently (I forget the name and can't find the site right now). It'd be fantastic to eventually have a conference in the region, and promote to the world what Scandinavia and the Nordics have to offer. I have ideas for a name, such as North by Far North, or North by North North. I'd eventually love to do something like a chapter of PPK's Fronteers over here. Is anyone in the region interested? We might even be able to get local newspaper VG to not be so big and bloated. Oh well, at least it is a great test case for our phone browsers .