Lost in a Scandinavian Forest

At this moment, if I could be anywhere I’d ask to be transported to the Swedish countryside. Perhaps Småland or Södermanland but I’d definitely be staying in a little red cabin (faluröda hus) positioned by a lake and surrounded by trees. Right now the forests are a lush green colour, so green they’re almost blue and the trees tower above you, giant and cartoon-like, shooting upwards like a fletching at the tail of an arrow…

…I’m not sure I can delve any further into this fantasy without risking severe ‘iwantaholiday-itus’. Instead I will share with you my favourite Scandinavian forest inspired accessories which will help to bring a touch of this picture perfect scene into your home.

Scandinavian Forest Accessories

 

1. Hansel and Gretel nursery print £25.00 , 2. Moomin Green Garden Mug £14.95, 3. Green Finnish Tree Fabric  £24.95/m, 4. Green Moorland Cushion £28.00, 5. Talking tree hexagon pot stand $31, 6. Gran Tray €43, 7. Big Matches $8, 8. The Fir Tree £8.99, 9. House in the Forest $219, 1o. Bear of Few Words Print, £10

 

 

 

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Swedish Design Icons: Marianne Westman

Born in 1928 in the Swedish Province of Darlarna (home of the Dala Horse), Marianne Westman is a Swedish textile and ceramic designer.  Westman’s career really began when she joined Rörstrand, a porcelain factory, it was here she produced perhaps her most iconic design ‘Picknick’ in 1956.

Such was her success she became known as  ‘Porslinsmamma’ (china mum) in the factory. Westman’s designs are timeless – superb in their simplicity, often depicting or inspired by ordinary items and surroundings. They’re beautifully executed pieces of art but applied to everyday useful objects. Making functional fun. How very Scandinavian.

You can still get hold of some of the original pieces, Etsy has a fair amount in stock. But thanks mainly to Almedahls (a Swedish textile company) plenty of her designs are still in production today. Röstrand have also reconnected with her too, recently re-launching her ‘Mon Amie’ range – in the same year she celebrated her 8oth birthday in fact. So obviously there is a lot still to choose from, but here are a few of my favourites…

 

Scandi-style-marriane-westman

1. Picknick Chopping Board £14.97 (Sale), 2. Pomona coaster 4-pack $26, 3. Almedahls Mustard Körsbärsträdgården Scandinavian Fabric £29.95 p/m, 4. Belle Amie pot stand blue $30, 5. Karringen mot Strommen Tray $32  6. Mon Amie Jar $42, 7. Picknick oil cloth £26.50p/m

 

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Form and Function: The Ostehøvel Model

On my first trip to Sweden, over 6 years ago now, I made two discoveries –  the Osthyvel and the Smörkniv (cheese slicer and butter knife being the literal translation). Admittedly they don’t sound like the most glamorous or exciting of objects but that is kind of the point. Scandinavians seem to have a knack  of making our lives easier and more beautiful at the same time, right down to the detail of the knife you butter your bread with.

So yes the Osthyvel (or Ostehøvel if we were to give it it’s native Norweigen name) is a good looking tool but it also cuts your cheese thinner than a normal knife ever could.

Here’s my pick of some of the best Scandi objects to brighten up your everyday…

 

Scandi-style-practical-and-beautiful-utensils

 1. Hang Around kitchen tools £25, 2. Norm beer foamer  £35, 3. RIG TIG Sweep-It Dustpan And Brush £19.95, 4. Normann tea strainer £17, 5. Goat Hair Hedgehog Dusting Brush £6.95, 6. Collective Tools/Cheese Plane £32.00, 7. A pair of Butter Knives of Juniper £2.50, 8. Dustpan & Broom  £19, 9. A week of dish cloths 7-pack £25

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Picture This: Affordable Scandinavian Art

I love Scandinavia. And every so often I like to be reminded of the place that I’ve visited often and always admired. Much like your favourite holiday snaps, posters and prints that depict or are at least inspired by Scandinavia become like little windows into this part of the world. Reminders of a trip, a feeling or just simply an aesthetic appreciation of good design.

I already have the Swedish Alphabet Ikea poster (which unfortunately no longer seems to be available). A Wonderful Copenhagen poster and most recently my brother came up trumps and bought me Olle Eksell’s Stockholm palace picture (number 9). And after the research for this post, I think my collection may grow some more…

 

 

Scandi-style-posters

1. Scandinavian Picknick,  £25  2. Scandinavian Mammals, £18.95, 3. Pk3 poster, €17 4. Owl poster, £18.95 5.Retro Kitchen Cooking Pots £10.53, 6. Moomin art print £7.99  7. FIKA poster £24.77 8. Fly to Copenhagen £18.95  9. Stockholm Palace poster £40 10. Little Red Riding Hood Scandinavian print £25

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Sourcing Affordable Scandinavian Style Fabrics in the UK

Established in 1924 by Estrid Ericsson Svenskt Tenn is an interior design shop on Strandvägen in Stockholm. And thanks to designers like Josef Frank, who worked there in the 30’s,  it soon became the most fashionable interior store in Sweden.

On a recent trip to Stockholm I ventured in looking for curtain fabrics and was blown away by the place. I wanted to move in.

SVENSKT TENN

SVENSKT TENN

SVENSKT TENN

Frank’s textile collection was a particular highlight  (his modernist values and willingness to embrace both pattern colour may have gone against the tide at the time but 80years on and his designs are still magnificently relevant).

I must admit though for me it was more like a museum trip as I couldn’t afford anything. The fabric costs an average of £100pm2 and although the craftsmanship and history of the designs do go someway to justifying the price tag, it was simply too much for me. Perhaps if my windows were only 1m2 I may have considered the investment…

Anyhow, I guess what i’m saying is if money isn’t an issue then start there. Otherwise if you want to add a little bit if Scandinavian cheer to a room with both colour and pattern then take a look at these cheaper high street alternatives…

Scandi-style-Scandinavian-affordable-fabric

1. Kauniste Metsa Green Finnish Fabric (£24.95), 2. Almedahls Pomona Fabric (£21), 3. Spira Jaffa Light Turquoise Swedish Fabric (£39), 4. Almedahls Mustard Körsbärsträdgården Scandinavian Fabric (£29.95), 5. Unikko heavyweight cotton fabric (£39), 6. Siirtolapuutarha tyg £42, 7. Picknick fabric (£18 sale price), 8. Pomerans Light Turquoise (£28.50), 9. EVALOTTA (£5), 10. FÄRGKULLA (£4)

 

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Swedish Design Icons: Olle Eksell

Scandi-style-olle-eksell-illustrations

Olle Eksell was a revered Swedish designer and illustrator. Born in 1918 in Kopparberg (the place not the cider) he studied and then settled in Stockholm with his fashion designer wife Ruth. Eksell made his name in advertising, perhaps his most iconic creation being his Mazetti Cacao Eye design, above, developed for the chocolate and confectionery manufacturer and now adorning the walls of many a stylish home (check out his dedicated instagram feed).

His talent extended across several disciplines, advertising, graphic design, illustration and writing and his creations range from the simple and graphic to the fantastical and abstract. He was way ahead of his time, just take a look at some of his illustrative work. I particularly love his depictions of Stockholm, years later they still capture the scene perfectly. They’re a superb balance of precision and crazy.

Scandi-style-olle-eksell-illustrations

I want at least two of them to feature on my newly painted hallway and thankfully that is a possibility as the Scandinavian Design Center continue to sell his work, so take your pick from posters, tote bags, trays or tea towels.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the man behind the art then I recommend you watch this series of interviews with his wife Ruth. There’s also a pretty comprehensive book available which documents both his professional and private practice.

 

 

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Mad for Midsummer

This time last year, I was looking forward to my two week trip to Sweden. I’d timed the adventure so it coincided with their annual ‘Midsommar’ celebrations. This festival marks the longest day of the year and it’s a holiday that’s steeped in tradition with plenty of unique customs and rituals. My favourite custom being the eating and drinking.

Scandi-style-midsummer-madness

The 2014 celebrations will be taking place over the weekend of 20 June and I enjoyed myself so much last year that I feel I ought to mark the occasion somehow.  I’m not sure the people of Manchester will be prepared to join me in the Små grodorna (Swedish for ‘The Little Frogs’) dance around the maypole, so I’ve been searching for other ways in which I can recreate some of that Swedish Midsummer madness. Here’s my pick of some of the best Midsummer merchandise, admittedly much of it is food/drink related…

Scandi-style-Midsummer-party-celebrations

If you want to fully embrace the tradition, then you’ll need to consider the food too.  I suggest checking out Scandinavian Kitchen – a typical Swedish Midsummer lunch consists of pickled herring, new potatoes and dill, chives, sour cream and beer. But most importantly don’t forget the snaps – skål!

1. Sweden maypole £23 (£5 p&p) 2. Sill oilcloth £29 (£5 p&p) 3. Mrs Cabbage Round Tray £44.50 (£4.95 p&p) 4. Bordfolk Girl In Dark Blue £12.00 (£3.95 p&p) 5. Gense Nobel Gold 2 Piece Fish Cutlery Set £119.65 (FREE delivery) 6. Swedish Midsummer Art Print £12 (£6 p&p) 7. Midsummer Birch Tray £29 (£9 p&p) 8. Royal VKB French Decanter Set £19.95 (£3.95 p&p) 9. LSA Serve Cakestand £46.00 (£8.95 p&P) 10. SNAPS MIX £8.25 (in store only) 11. SOS bowl £20 (£5 p&p) 12. Herring Cellulose Dishcloth £3.50 (£2.95 p&p)

 

 

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The Modern Day Dala Horse

The Dala horse or Dalahäst to give it its native name is a hand painted wooden horse statuette, made in the Dalarna region of Sweden. Originally produced as a children’s toy it has now become somewhat of a national symbol. I bought mine from Stolkholm’s Stadmission (charity shop) when I was over there last year, but they don’t come cheap – even a small second hand one cost me around £30. They are beautiful objects though, and yes they have a tourist price tag but you’re paying for the craftsmanship too.

There is a wealth of Dala horse love out there and it doesn’t stop at the traditional wooden statues. Many artists and designers have created their own modern versions of the icon and here are just a few of the lovely objects you can buy…

Modern day dala horse

1. IKEA DRÖMMAR Baking tray £7.25, 2. Society 6 Dala Horse Wall Clock approx  £18 (£8 shipping from US) 3. Swedish Dala Horse Fabric – from £17.04 GBP per yard (£8.52 p&p), 4. Dala Horse Mug £8.00 (£4.00 p&p), 5. Dala Pillow Cover in Turquoise 16×16 £35.30 (£5.48 p&p), 6. Hello Dala Postcard £1.50 (£1.00 p&p), 7. Dala Horse Handmade Fabric Lampshade by Love Frankie £30 (£4.95 p&p), 8. Dala Horse Baby Blanket £29.21 (£7.30 p&p), 9. Dala Horse Necklace £26.95 (£5.90 p&p), 10. Dala Horse Stamp Set £13.74 (free p&p)

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Geometric Rugs

I reckon it’s the graphic designer in me but there’s something about a bold pattern that I really cannot resist, the brighter the better. So Scandinavian geometric rugs are right up my street (or down my hallway as it were).

The Britta Sweden ‘Anna’ rug was my choice for the soon to be completed hall, and as it’s made from woven plastic there’s no need to panic when people start traipsing their muddy shoes across it. Practical and beautiful, you can always rely on the Swedes.

There are plenty more Scandinavian statements to choose from though…

Geometric-pic-one

1. STOCKHOLM Rug £100 2. Linie Design Mirina Pastel Rug £350.00 3. Pappelina Honey Mustard & Vanilla Runner £62 4. Medium Wally Floor Rug £295 5. ANNA Britta Sweden SEK1220.00 (approx £122)

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