Joni at Cote De Texas continues to amaze and inspire with her long posts devoted to one topic. The most recent, “A Swede Designs,” considers Lars Bolander, a Swede living and working in the U.S. who designs with a distinctly Gustavian attitude. The post is long and luscious with depictions of Gustavian style, both by Bolander and others.
But ultimately it sent me to my bookshelf to ferret out my favorite tomes on all things Swedish — actually, on all things Scandinavian. Up here, where we speak Minnesotan and Wisconsin, we find inspiration equally in Denmark, Finland, Norway and, yes, even Iceland.
Among many images, Cote de Texas showcased Bolander’s stunning new house on Oland Island. And for those who had their magnifiers out, you may have noticed the article about this new home was written by Elizabeth Gaynor, author of two superb books that are definitely worth owning. The following titles offer Scandinavian fare that may be unfamiliar as they are not recent publications, but all are worth searching out if you want to learn about the full spectrum of Scandinavian design.
``Scandinavia: Living Design'' (Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 1987) and ``Finland: Living Design,'' (Rizzoli, 1984) are at the top of my list. Both are written by Elizabeth Gaynor and stuffed with intriguing images snapped by Kari Haavisto.
They are arranged by broad themes and include a variety of eras and styles. So you’ll find Gustavian as well as many of the designers we think of as mid-century modern: Poul Henningsen, Alvar Aalto, Arne Jakobsen, Finn Juhl, Vernor Panton — and my personal favorite, Hans Wegner. You’ll also find the country home of Armi Ratia, the Finish woman who created Marimekko, and the sophisticated urban flat of her son, Ristomatti.
“Swedish Interiors,” by Rhonda Eleish and Edie Van Breems (Gibbs Smith, 2007) looks at Swedish design in the U.S. I can’t ignore the two Midwestern homes detailed in the book since both are here in Wisconsin: Ten Chimneys, the fabled home of the theatrical team of Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne in Genesee Depot; and New Sundborn, the Loran Nordgren ranch in Coon Valley.
Nordgren's home pays homage to artists Carl and Karin Larson, and like Ten Chimneys, is bright and lively. The two are in stark contrast to almost all the other houses where the more typical Swedish blues, grays and Gustavian furniture predominate.
Carl and Karin Larsson decorated and embellished the interior of their home in colors and a style that were innovations for the era, the late 1880s. Today the couple and their home are widely known and loved (see “Carl Larsson’s Home;” Addison-Wesley, 1978) as are Carl’s charming paintings that showed the family going about their daily lives in the highly personal home (see “Carl Larsson: A Home;” G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1974).
Lest you think Scandinavian design is all pale gray and blue, I leave you with this image of my favorite sweater (and matching mitts) from the glorious house of Oleana, whose designs are based on Norwegian folk costumes.