Mama tours the new Skandium Townhouse, London’s fresh Scandinavian dream home
Words Pendle Harte
The notion of Scandinavian style is definitely in danger of overexposure. Last year’s frenzy over hygge and the eternal popularity of pale spaces has led to the most universal of looks being credited with having a Scandinavian influence. Well over a million Instagram posts are tagged #scandinaviandesign and most of them show all-white rooms with angular furniture, lit candles and maybe a plant. Is that really what Scandinavian design is about? Has the whole idea lost its meaning?
Design store Skandium has quietly been selling Scandinavian furniture and homeware in London for nearly 20 years, and is best described as the “United Nations of Scandinavian Design”, in the words of co-founder Christina Schmidt. She and Magnus Englund founded the brand after they had a design epiphany over a cooking pot in Finland. The pot (made by Iittala) seemed to them to epitomise simplicity; it was a pot like a child’s drawing of a pot, combining quality materials with perfect proportion to create a fully satisfying piece of functional design with no excess, no frills, no fuss. And from this they devised their philosophy of design that is beautiful and relevant, existing outside fashion and relying on craftsmanship and quality. These days, the store showcases the best of Scandi modernism in different forms; furniture and textiles are found alongside toys and kitchenware, including mugs with the loveable Moomin characters on.
And now Skandium has rolled out its vision in the form of an entire home. The pioneering retail vision sees a four-storey house at 31 Thurloe Place, South Kensington, transformed into a fully shoppable, Scandinavian-inspired home, with living rooms, dining areas, a reading nook, a children’s bedroom and even a garden. Skandium’s design team explains: “Working within the natural scale of a residential property, we are able to demonstrate exactly how our customers can capture the unique character of Scandinavian living in their own homes. The residential-meets-retail space has been populated with our engaging mix of modernist masterpieces and future classics, expertly curated for the design-conscious and the curious.” Walking round, it is impossible not to wish this was your actual house. Everything fits together but isn’t overly matching; it feels individually created rather than devised by a brand.
Scandinavian design might be known for its simplicity, but that doesn’t translate into it being boring, as there’s a wide variety of shapes, materials, textiles and influences on show, with pieces dating back to all periods of the 20th and 21st centuries. Fritz Hansen chairs, Örsjö Belysning lamps, and Iittala glassware are able to shine like never before. “Scandinavian design is perceived by many people as rather boring if they don’t understand it,” Schmidt adds. “Because it is not made to impress you, it is made to live with you like an old friend.”
Skandium’s new homeware mecca, in a two-storey building at 35-36 Thurloe Place – directly opposite the Townhouse – showcases a range of soft furnishings, accessories and one of the largest collections of Scandinavian lighting in London.