This weekend saw the Banker and I taking shameless advantage of the cheap flight fad and enjoying a short weekend break in Stockholm. As ever, was looking forward to trawling around the design shops and antiques and collectables centres in the capital of one of the countries that has contributed the most to 20th century design.
Well, disappointment isn't the right word by any means, but it was a little surprising to find so few. Maybe I was looking in the wrong place. Sodermalm (and particularly the area known as 'SOFA', Stockholm's equivalent of NYC's and London Soho) seemed the best pace to start. Two! It yielded only two! One very smart, very savvy shop, Wigerdal, and one that looked like some Medieval peddler's shop filled to the gunnels with all manner of junk and also great designs from Rostrand, Gustavsberg and others. Closer inspection in both clearly demonstrated that unlike other places I have been lucky enough to visit, buying the goods at source is NOT much cheaper! Most of the pieces I saw were roughly the same price as they are in London, or on dealers' websites. A far cry from Copenhagen where Holmegaard glass (even if ever so very slightly flawed) can be found for a fraction of its price here. A good example was this Naebvase (left), an iconic form designed by Per Lutken in 1951. Prices usually range from around £30-50 upwards, but I picked one up, with a slight flaw, for £5 in Copenhagen. Despite the similar prices, I was tempted by a few, but thought better of it. The key contender was an Alsterfors cased glass vase designed by Per Olaf Strom in about 1968. I've always liked the bright sky blue on opaque white, and the mechanical almost 'cog' like design. I also think this sort of glass in massively under-appreciated, a view I apparently share with some glassmakers. Nice souvenir, sure, but at £30 hardly the bargain of the decade! It's still there, as far as I know, along with some more tiresome and common West German vases by Scheurich. I guess the Banker got off lightly this time...poor thing, dragged around boring shops filed with old stuff. Mind you he is far from being a heathen and does appreciate 20thC design. Lucky me.
A few nights out clubbing with the uber-fashionable residents of Stockholm (I had to buy a new shirt not to look out of place!) and a pleasant hangover-blasting long walk around the idyllic and sun-soaked island of Djurgarden later and my senses and equilibrium were restored. Fantastic city, fabulous (and fabulously dressed!) people - I'd certainly recommend a visit, but don't hope to stock up on Scandi design classics as you'd be better off seeing someone like my friend Richard Wallis here in the UK!
Pavlos S. Pavlou: I was born a collector
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