‘We want to do something that's fun, accessible and gets people to connect with objects again,’ says Danish dealer Nina Hertig. And It’s impossible not to feel an old-school shopping rush when you enter Ælfred, a 300 sq m treasure trove of Scandinavian midcentury finds in east London. Rows of ‘PH’ pendant lights dangle from the rafters and shelves are stacked with ceramics from the likes of Royal Copenhagen, lamps by Louis Poulsen, glassware and vintage silver cutlery. Familiar names – Børge Mogensen, Haslev, Alvar Aalto’s Artek – add to a delightful mix of Danish, Swedish, Norwegian and Finnish classics all under one roof.
Inside Ælfred: London's vintage Scandinavian design emporium
Ælfred couldn’t be more different to Hertig’s first venture. In 2005, she co-founded her Kings’ Road gallery Sigmar, where pedigree pieces by Scandinavian masters include Finn Juhl chairs for £6,500 and clients are owners of Manhattan penthouses who employ her interior design services.
At Ælfred, on the canal in Hackney Wick, prices range from £15 to £2,500 and almost nothing is catalogued. What’s more, nothing is available online. There’s no time for that, what with containers of carefully selected stock arriving regularly from Denmark. ‘We can make things accessible by scaling the business, which is something we need to do now in London,’ she says. ‘We're basing Ælfred on a high turnover of stuff. We'll have a truck here every two weeks.’
For those who don’t want to buy a complete dinner service including pieces they will never use, huge sets of glassware, silver cutlery and crockery can be mixed and matched.
As Hertig points out, many items such as glasses and cutlery don’t need to be bought new. ‘They are so well made they have lasted for decades, and have plenty more life left in them.’
The name Ælfred is an in-joke; Alfred ‘The Great’, King of Wessex, famously fended off the Vikings during much of his reign in the ninth century. This Ælfred, says Hertig, is more welcoming of all things Scandinavian, and will welcome visitors and locals too.
Right next door, Moro opens a new restaurant. (This is no coincidence; Hertig’s friends Nina Tolstrup and Jack Mama of Studiomama designed it) and both spaces hope to attract weekenders ‘to come, have lunch, have a great day out, and celebrate the dying art of discovering treasures in real life‘.
Unit 2, Autumn Yard
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Emma O'Kelly is a contributing editor at Wallpaper*. She joined the magazine on issue 4 as news editor and since since then has worked in full and part time roles across many editorial departments. She is a freelance journalist based in London and works for a range of titles from Condé Nast Traveller to The Telegraph. She is currently working on a book about Scandinavian sauna culture and is renovating a mid century house in the Italian Lakes.
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