Svenskt Tenn: iconic design in Stockholm

Cheerful, chic interiors nirvana in Östermalm

Stockholm is a design-lovers’ nirvana, with graphic prints and modernist furniture at virtually every turn. But no trip to this magical city is complete without a visit to Svenskt Tenn, a vivid interiors shop-cum-café in the chic Östermalm area. Opened in 1924 by pewter designer and aesthetic visionary Estrid Ericson, and fêted architect Josef Frank, the store has remained a vibrant centre full of the bold print fabrics and some 2,000 furniture sketches that were originally created specifically for the store.

A visit to Svenskt Tenn is an incredible experience, one that should include a visit to their tea salon for a bit of post-retail rejuvenation in a contemporary setting. Each of the shop’s bright, airy spaces – arranged across many rooms, and in various themes and colours – offers an eye-popping array of textiles. These striking fabrics – available by the metre in coated cotton (SEK1,100, about £103), linen (from about £103 to £135) and plain cotton (about £98) – often feature birds, plants, seashells and other natural forms that Frank found so inspirational. Cushions – from sofa pillows (about £70 to £112) to statement-making pieces with sayings such as “the world is a book and he who stays at home reads only one page” – create a cheerful backdrop for the assorted chairs, glass bookcases and cabinets.

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It’s hard to pick favourites in this emporium, but I particularly liked Frank’s simple chairs – the arts-and-crafts-esque 2025 with a beautiful rattan seat (about £943) as well as his upholstered armchair 335 (about £2,316) in a vegetal motif. I am also a big fan of the muted marvel that is pewter, and temptation here was hard to resist, be it the newer Green box designs (about £261) by Jakob Solgren or Ericson’s Peruvian-inspired urns (about £4,484) or extremely tall candlesticks (about £172).  

Lighting was of paramount importance to the founders (particularly at the dinner table, where Ericson believed guests should be cast in a flattering glow, as well as from above), and this part of the shop offers playful, primary-coloured floor lighting by Frank (No 2431, about £757, third picture) as well hanging Greta lamps (about £981) by Whatswhat, available in deep indigo, fuchsia or canary yellow.

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Creative director Thommy Bindefeld is also always looking for new collaborators: “We source partnerships with Swedish as well as with international names whose design language corresponds and plays well with Josef Frank’s timeless creations,” he explains. “Our aim is for Svenskt Tenn to have a mixture of historical and contemporary pieces.” Their balance between archive and avant-garde is just right.

Frank once said: “Never let things stay permanent in your home – keep rearranging the furniture, and remember to leave space for children and gifts. Your home will thereby remain a living entity.” There’s no better summation of the eclectic philosophy behind Svenskt Tenn.

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