Ikea. For too many people, Swedish Design is Ikea. I admit I too have a house filled with “The Wonderful Everyday,” but I know there is so much more to Swedish Design than my Billy Bookcase, my Regissör cabinet and Fantastisk napkins. A weekend trip to Stockholm proved me right.
A first night spent in the ultra-hip, perfectly central, oh-so exceedingly cool Nobis Hotel set us on right design path. Boy, is it the place to be, not in a snobby red-velvet rope way, but a welcome in, you’re invited to the party salute. The service could not have been friendlier and they made us feel we were in for a good time. Any design fan has to come in and try their two bars – the Gold Bar and the Lounge. The interiors of both are amazing especially the Lounge which has brought the outside of the hotel inside by fitting a ceiling to the 28 meter roof above. The rooms are fab too – with a duvet for each person so no one has to fight for a piece of it in the middle of the night.
Svenskt Tenn is the mother of all design stores in Stockholm. It actually translates to Swedish Pewter and they sold only that when it was founded in 1924 by Estrid Ericson, In 1934, Austrian architect and designer Josef Frank was brought into the company. He designed more than 160 textile prints full of color and humor – everything from lampshades, chairs and cabinets are covered. I could have taken home an apron in every print!
Right next door to Svenskt Tenn is Malmstenbutiken. Carl Malmsten’s M.O. was “to make people happy with the furniture that I make.” For those who aren’t in the know re Swedish furniture makers, Carl Malmsten was one of the most iconic. His products could be seen in many the Stockholm’s civic buildings including the Stockholm City Hall, Concert Hall, and Tändstickspalatset (Matchstick Palace). The store on Strandvägen has been there since 1940 and Malmsten was involved in every aspect of it. He died in the 70’s, but the store still sells not only his works, but those of emerging Swedish designers of furniture and much more – like these cool knapsacks which really made me happy. Job done, Carl!
Turn around and head straight up Sibyllegatan – almost every store on this pretty street is designy and there are some amazing finds – both antique and modern.
Palmgrens has been on this street since 1896, whipping up luxurious leather goods. Now, it’s all about rattan – the rattan handbags were launched in 1950 and took the city by storm. Although they also make all kind of leather bags and accessories – they are now known for these distinctive bags which are totally rocking a retro look. I am super annoyed I came home without one.
(I know this photo doesn’t really show you the store, but these salt and pepper shakers were just too divine not to post)
If Svenskt Tenn is the mommy of Swedish Design then Asplund is the daddy. No bright colors here! Loads of restrained light fixtures and cool, contemporary, streamlined sofas, chairs, cabinets and other things that make up a hip-stylish home. The housewares are from all over the world and have that tongue & cheek insider vibe that make you feel in touch with modernity.
By this time we needed a bit more Swedish Cuisine than Design and headed off to the Östermalm Saluhall…but more on that in a later post.
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Best Bits: Travel Cheat Sheet
- Nobis Hotel – Norrmalmstorg 2-4
- Svenskt Tenn – Strandvägen 5
- Malmstenbutiken – Strandvägen 5b
- Palmgrens – Sibyllegatan 7
- Asplund – Sibyllegatan 31
NB: The Cypriot and I were guests of the Nobis Hotel! Visit Stockholm took such good care of us – providing us each with a Stockholm Card – allowing transport across the city and entry into museums. They were so helpful and a great resource for those new to the city and who’ve been there before.