Friday, April 27, 2012

Swedish design, hold the lutefisk

I am 1/8 Swedish.  It's the most highly concentrated and certainly most interesting part of my heritage.  So I choose to call myself a Swede. 

Sweden, a land of the midnight sun, is also the land of the midday moon in the wintertime.  What, you may ask does this have to do with design, and more particularly, purging the office/studio?  If you'll allow me a little latitude, I'll get to that.

I love all things French country.  No, really, I do.  I love the textiles, particularly toile, but also the blue and the red and the yellow and the green Provencal fabrics.  I love the colors, I love the wood.  The furniture, the paneling.  Those dark rich woods. The parquet floors.  I can look at French Country design books all day.  I can envision it in my house.  My sub-division even has a French name !

And so began my quest to decorate my home in the French Country style.  In the sun, it looks great, and warm. But, here, in the Pacific Northwest, unlike the South of France, we don't have sun in wintertime.  We have the grey clouds.  And we also have grey clouds.  Sometimes we even have, wait for it, grey clouds.  So, dark and heavy furnishings, well it just looks dark and heavy.  And not happy at all.  I need happy.  I neeeeddd happy.

Back to being Swedish.  One day, while learning more about my Swedishnish, I happened upon a book about Swedish Country Design.

Swedish Country Interiors

Eeh?  That's right.  Swedish Country. 

Seems back in the day, old King Gustav went to visit his King buddy in France.  He liked the furniture.  So he took some back to Sweden with him.  But it was dark and heavy.  So, he painted it.  White or palest grey, or pale blue.  It's pretty much like my beloved French Country, only instead of oak and walnut, everything's made out of oak and pine.  Instead of dark rich stain, its whitewashed.  Or painted.  Painted light colors.  Why?  It's all cleverly designed to fool the mind into thinking there's more light than there actually is.  It's a psychological and totally genius way to decorate. 

Where contemporary Swedish design has very clean lines and is essentially minimalist, Swedish Country allows for a bit more flair in the furnishings, and more tchotchke's.  Like carved furniture.  Like a Dala Horse.  I do like me a Dala Horse. 

So for my studio, where I often spend a great deal of my day, Swedish Country design it is.  It also helps that my former (sniffle) neighbor gave me her whitewashed pine sideboard and hutch when they downsized last summer.  It's kind of a prominent piece and handy too.  It also reminds me of my all time favorite neighbor.  Which means, It follows my rules.  It makes me happy, and it functions the way I need it to function.  This piece is my jumping off point for the studio. 

Next up, the quest to find work surfaces.....

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