Shopping for Swedish Design

Shopping for Swedish Design

Lola A. Åkerström explores some of the best places in Stockholm to shop for quintessential Swedish design pieces.

Originally published in 2014. Updated in January 2020.

Biblioteksgatan, Stockholm, Sweden - Photography by Lola Akinmade Akerstrom

Photo by author

Creative Design Hub

Stockholm remains Sweden’s melting pot and creativity hub with hundreds of big name as well as smaller artisans running design shops, houses, and collectives.

Specific neighborhoods like STHLM Design District are dedicated to design shops and a slew of studios. Located on the west side of Stockholm’s bohemian district, Södermalm, there are roughly 28 established brands within the design, textile, and furniture industries located here.

From brands such as the textiles and fabrics company Almedahls which has been operating for over 150 years to Scandinavian design brand Mitab known for interior décor.

Luxury concept stores like Design House Stockholm represent over 60 high end Swedish contemporary designers creating everything from modern interior décor to timeless porcelain and glassware.

Svenskt Tenn located on upscale Strandvägen remains one of Stockholm’s most exclusive and classic design companies known for brightly colored patterned fabrics, textiles, and furniture designed by Swedish-Austrian architect and designer Josef Frank.

Photo courtesy of Almedahls

Photo courtesy of Almedahls

From more affordable chain stores like Designtorget  to smaller artisan handcrafted brands like HAPPYsthlm and iconic furniture designer brand, Carl Malmsten, which mixes Swedish folk designs with modern styles and natural colors and sustainable materials from nature, Swedish design remains highly sought-after globally.

Glass Design

Many design stores carry their own version of glassware but two iconic names associated with Swedish glass is Kosta Boda which has been operating since 1742 and Orrefors which has been running since 1898. Both brands joined forces to form the Orrefors Kosta Boda Group where the Orrefors brand focuses on simple yet elegant everyday clear crystal ware while the Kosta Boda brand focuses on exquisite bold colored glassware.

At their Stockholm showroom, you’ll find a variety of unique creations from both established and emerging designers as well as signature items like glasses used during the Nobel Prize Banquet.

For skillfully crafted glassworks, in addition to the Orrefors Kosta Boda Glass showroom, there’s also an international gallery called The Glassery which is devoted to exhibiting glass as an art form.

Photo courtesy of Orrefors Kosta Boda

Photo courtesy of Orrefors Kosta Boda

For more vintage designs which Stockholm has in ample supply, intricate porcelain and Art Nouveau ceramics can be picked up at Bacchus Antique where you’ll find traditionally designed wares from the early 1900s. The store carries high end art glass including tableware and lamps. Modernity offers handcrafted textiles, art, ceramics, lighting, and glassware.

For more moderately priced rarities, Wigerdals Värld  carries a selection of affordable glass and ceramics as well as antique sofas, lounge chairs, and coffee tables.

Honoring innovative design

High quality design is such an integral part of Swedish culture that every year in Stockholm, major events drawing thousands of visitors and covering design trends and innovations within the realms of furniture, interior décor, and lighting are held.

Starting with the largest Nordic interior design fair in mid January, Formex is a trade fair which brings together over 850 exhibitors, 25,000 visitors and over 800 media representatives.

Formex takes place every January and August, and spotlights new and cutting-edge products, opportunities and inspirational designs within the interior décor industry. Formex also hands out its Nova Design Award which recognizes a young designer working in the Nordic region.

Photo courtesy of August Ericksson/FORMEX

Photo courtesy of August Ericksson/FORMEX

Design Fairs in Stockholm

Hot off the heels of Formex in early February, the city ushers in “Stockholm Design Week” – a full week dedicated to broader Scandinavian design trends with exhibitions of new productions, stage shows organized by designers, and various interactive design experiments which are held all over town. (See Slow Travel Stockholm’s tour of Stockholm Design Week here.)

Running parallel to Stockholm Design Week is also Stockholm Furniture Fair & Northern Light Fair which focuses on contemporary and accessible Scandinavian home furnishings and lighting systems as well as designs for public spaces.

The fair spotlights the work of hundreds of designers, publishes its two-year Interior Trends report with design predictions, and also has a Greenhouse section which showcases new talent and emerging designers.

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Author: Lola A. Åkerström

Lola Akinmade Åkerström is an award-winning writer, photographer, and travel blogger, and is also the Founder/Editor-in-chief of Slow Travel Stockholm. Her photography is represented by National Geographic Creative. She tweets at @LolaAkinmade.

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