Building foundations with Jean Nouvel and Frank Gehry
Even seasoned travellers welcome the insight of the right sort of local, a gently guiding hand in new territories or a fresh take on the familiar. With this in mind, Wallpaper* in collaboration with Tudor watches has produced a series of Style Files; country-specific, cliché-dodging dossiers and in-the-field notes for the contemporary explorer who really knows where they are going.
Swedish design is in Susanna Wåhlin′s DNA. She grew up in a small forest town in southern Sweden′s Småland province. Or, as Wåhlin calls it, ‘the Mecca of furniture production in Sweden′.
Småland is home to outfits such as Källemo, Norrgavel, Bruno Mathsson and Bsweden, while Scandinavian furniture giant Ikea has its vast HQ in the area. Wåhlin′s Smaland-based family spent dinner times ‘discussing form, colour, expression and aesthetics′, and she watched with fascination as her grandfather created new illuminations for the Orsjo lighting company. A career in design was all but predestined for her.
Wåhlin went on to study interior architecture and lived in Copenhagen and Paris before eventually settling in Sweden′s busy capital, where she is now an integral part of the creative team at multidisciplinary design studio Note. ‘Stockholm takes some time to get to know,′ she says. ‘But once you′ve made friends, you′re stuck. It′s a very open-minded place. People keep their eyes peeled for the latest thing, and we have a high aesthetic awareness.′
Wåhlin reckons the Swedes are inveterate cosmopolitans. ‘We generally travel a lot and like to see new places. We are open to new experiences and want to learn.′ Hence her portfolio for Note is colourful, playful, tactile and globally influenced; a wooden stool is redolent of an African elephant′s foot, while a light is inspired by the Diomede Islands in the Bering Strait.
‘In fashion and product design, we Swedes are definitely minimalist and true to our Scandinavian heritage,′ she says. ‘But I think we are also very good at reinventing it, deconstructing it, and seeing where it takes us.′