Design and style from a Scandinavian perspective

Some of this years favourites

As a final post this year I thought I'd give you some of my favourite photos from 2008. I will be doing a couple more of these posts in the coming days, so look out for more gorgeousness! First up, a bunch of wintery and slightly festive pics from my inspiration folder...

Happy New Year!

I want to wish all of my readers a fabulous 2009!

I'll leave you with some more pictures of H&M's coming Home collection. Enjoy!

Wabi Sabi, a little more background

“Pare down to the essence, but don’t remove the poetry. Keep things clean and unencumbered but don’t sterilize” says Leonard Koren, author of Wabi-Sabi: for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers. That would be exactly what I think defines good interior design. And that is the reason why I am so drawn to the Japanese philosophy of wabi sabi, and would like to share some of what I've found out lately.

First there was Feng Shui, and now, coming strong all over the Western world, is Wabi-Sabi. The wabi-sabi philosophy, or sense of aesthetics, refers to an awareness of the transient nature of earthly things and a corresponding pleasure in the things that bear the mark of this impermanence. Or, the celebration of the basic, the unique, and the imperfections in life.

The translation of wabi is "lonely", in current usage it means: "a taste for the simple and the quiet" and incorporates rustic beauty, such as patterns found in straw, bamboo, clay, or stone. It refers to both that which is made by nature and that which is made by man. Sabi refers to the patina of age, the concept that changes due to use may make an object more beautiful and valuable. This incorporates an appreciation of the cycles of life and careful, artful mending of damage. The person credited with first combining the words wabi and sabi into a phrase is the poet Matsuo Bashō. Bashō is most famous for inventing the haiku poetry form.

Some examples of what can be considered Wabi-Sabi:

Reverence and respect
Nature and nature's cycles
The incomplete and unideal
Find peace in change
Timeless beauty
Nature's geometry
Sustainable development
Living in the moment

However, ask a Japanese person about the meaning of the term Wabi-Sabi, and you will probably be met with silence. There is no simple explanation or definition of this phrase, it is just so intimately interwoven with the Japanese culture that it doesn't have to be explained in words. Westerners tend to associate wabi-sabi with physical characteristics - imperfection, crudeness, an aged and weathered look, etc. Although wabi-sabi may encompass these qualities, these characteristics are neither sufficient nor adequate to convey the essence of the concept. Wabi-sabi is not rigidly attached to a list of physical traits. Rather, it is a profound aesthetic consciousness that transcends appearance. It can be felt but rarely verbalized, much less defined. Defining wabi-sabi in physical terms is like explaining the taste of a piece of chocolate by its shape and color to someone who has never tasted it. For that reason, I will not make any more attempts to explain the concept for you. Just look at the pictures, and read some of the texts I've linked to at the end of this post, and try to get a feeling for what it means.

As I was reading the latest issue of Swedish Elle Interiör, I finally got the full story of how this philosophy actually got started. The ideas are ancient, but got a bigger breakthrough in the 16th century when Tea Master and monk Sen no Rikyu reformed the Japanese tea ceremony. As a reaction to the current extravagant ideals with exclusive china, he developed a new thought. The tea ceremony was to be an opportunity to withdraw from the world, in simplicity. It was to be performed in a simple hut with a door so small that everyone - high and low - would have to humbly bow to enter. Rikyu prescribed that the tools used should be plain and rustic, and commissioned special tea bowls to be made for the ceremony. These were the origin for the raku glazing method which is usually translated to mean "the joy of leisure time"or "ease".

The Wabi-Sabi House, the Japanese art of imperfect beauty, by Robyn Griggs Lawrence seems to be the best book on the subject, and it can be bought directly through the authors website or on Amazon.com. This book covers not just design and decorating, but has a holistic approach to the subject, with hands on tips on how to get a wabi-sabi lifestyle.

Here is a short list of some other books and online resources for more info on Wabi-Sabi (some are in Swedish, but just use Google Translate):

Living Wabi-Sabi by Taro Gold
Wabi-Sabi: for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers by Leonard Koren
Wabi-Sabi - Den hållbara livsstilen, a short text by Agneta Nyholm Winqvist, author and founder of Nordic School of Feng Shui, with a list of examples of what is Wabi-Sabi and what is not
A text on Wabi-Sabi on the site of online shop Chai Home
Decorating the Wabi-Sabi way on Apartment Therapy
Wabi-Sabi's simplicity on 37signals.com
A little bit about Wabi-Sabi on wabisabi.ca
Wabi-sabi, Learning to See the Invisible, by Tim Wong, Ph.D. & Akiko Hirano, Ph.D.
What is Wabi-Sabi, by architect Tadao Ando
For photos in the wabi-sabi style, check out the Wabi Sabi Suki Flickr group

I hoped you enjoyed this little lesson about my favourite sense of aesthetics!

Stylist Eva-Marie Wilken

In the last issue of Bo Bedre, I saw this home of one of the owners of By Nord.

It's already been blogged all over, but I was curious about the stylist, so I looked up her homepage. Turns out interior stylist Eva-Marie Wilken has actually created several of my favorite articles in Bo Bedre, like this all white home in Copenhagen.

I also found these pictures that I thought you'd like:

Happy Holidays!

I've been a bad blogger in the last couple of weeks, I know... But the thing is, I don't have an internet connection at home right now, so I have to sit in the restaurant where my boyfriend works and check my emails and stuff, and well, it isn't always so easy to concentrate when you're in a crowded bar. I'll really try to make it up to you soon though!

With hopes to see you here more often, have a merry christmas everyone!


And the winner is...


The winner of the Yellow print from Andyland is... Mhari, from the welcome home blog! Congratulations Mhari! I hope you enjoy the print! You were very scientifically chosen by my boyfriend, whom I asked to pick a random number...

Update! I just read in the comment section that I forgot to give you the answer. I'm sorry! The right answer is Paris, Louise currently resides in Paris, and that answer was of course to be found on the Andyland website.

Christmas the Pure Style way

You've all heard of Jane Cumberbatch right? Maybe Pure Style rings a bell? Or one of her other bestselling books; Pure Style Outside, Pure Style Living, Home Sweet Home, and her latest title, Decorating Easy. She is the inventor of the simple and natural style! And of course it was on her Pureblog I found this photo of a table decorated for Christmas, just the way I like it. No frills, no red and green crap, and definitely no little ugly santas. Just pure and white with lots of candles, a couple of oranges for scent and colour and some hyacinths to add life.

For a true mood lifting experience, visit Janes blog and read all about how she prepares her house for the different seasons, with great tips to make your own home cosier and more inviting.

Incredible art give-away in cooperation with Andyland!

To celebrate the spirit of Christmas, I'm hosting a great give-away with Swedish online art shop Andyland! They are providing the prize for this little competition, which is a beautiful art print by fashion photographer Louise Enhörning. The print is called Yellow, and measures 50x70cm (19.7"x27.6"). It's a numbered limited edition of 80 prints on matte archival photo paper. Wouldn't this be the perfect holiday present for the fashionista in your life (maybe that is you?)...

All you have to do to win this lovely picture is to send me an email (emmas.blogg at hotmail.com) telling me in which city Louise is currently situated. Please put Andyland in the subject line, so I have a chance to separate your emails from my private mail flow...

This competition ends at midnight (CET) Thursday the 18th of December. Good luck everyone!

Photographer Felicia Shelton

Today I have a blog tip for you!

The blogs I want you to check out are authored by Felicia Shelton, a very talented young photographer and blogger based in Seoul, and I think you should check her out if you haven't already! She authors two blogs, This Time Now which is more indepth on the thoughts behind design and form, and This Time in Seoul, which is more about her travels and experiences. Both blogs feature beautiful photos by Felicia, who has also worked with Tom Dixon on his latest interior design book, who in turn has written the foreword to Felicia's upcoming book on design in Seoul.

Photographer Nicolas Mathéus

Sixx Design has made a book!

Most of you have probably heard about Sixx Design, or at least drooled over some of the stylish pictures from their home makeovers, featured in many European and US deco mags. For those of you who don't know, Sixx Design is a team of husband and wife Robert and Cortney Novogratz, based in New York with their six children, and they have made a career out of renovating and designing unique and hip homes for families for over ten years now. And now they've created a book, with loads of practical tips and advice together with some gorgeous inspirational pictures. It's called Downtown Chic, Designing Your Dream home, from Wreck to Ravishing, and it's available right here.

A typical Swedish home

This post is a little different than my usual posts, because today I want to show you what a pretty typical Swedish home looks like. This is the style of decorating that I see when I visit my friends' homes. Well, that is, if they have kids... If not, take all the colour out of these photos and put in a huge flatscreen tv, and you have a child-free Swedish home. ;-)
This style is much more colourful than what I usually show here, the wood of choice is oak, and there is lots of retro influences and an all over cozy and inviting feel. Do you like it? Could you imagine living like this?

This is from an article in Sköna Hem on a two bedroom apartment in Gothenburg.

Christmas decor from Myliving

Lou commented and asked for a post on Christmas decoration, and here it is, well the first one at least, I'm sure there will be more before we reach Christmas. I found all of these pictures on myliving.dk, a great Danish site with loads of deco articles, style and trend tips, blogs and web resources. The pictures I chose for this post are all styled and photographed by Lisbett Wedendahl.

I'm loving the idea of a naked tree instead of a regular Christmas tree, and this is what I'm hoping to have this Christmas. I just have to find a tree first... There is another version of this over at the gorgeous blog Fryd+Design, right here, this is the one that actually got me hooked on the idea in the first place.

Andreas Larsson's home in LoftLife Magazine

The latest issue of LoftLife Magazine features the beatiful home of Swedish born photographer Andreas Larsson, who moved to the US more than ten years ago to attend photography school in Miami. Since then, he's traveled internationally on assignment, but calls his loft in Chicago "home." Larsson has a low tolerance for clutter, preferring simple, stark minimalism. He draws inspiration from the "Danish Modern" movement and names Grete Jalk, Arne Jacobsen, and Hans Wegner as favorites. Slightly more than 1,000-square-feet in size, Andreas chose a few modern pieces to decorate his space, creating a tranquil environment that's as much about the bones of the loft as it is about the particular items that fill it.

Click here for more pictures of Andreas' home.

The home of Robyn Glaser

Robyn Glaser's country house

When I posted last week about stylist Robin Glaser saying I wished I could show you more pictures from Robyn's home, I got a comment from photographer Ngoc Minh Ngo, who shot the photos I was talking about, offering to send them to me. Isn't the internet great?! So she did, along with some other great photos from Robyn's old country house. Here is the country house, the apartment is coming up in my next post. Thank you so much Ngoc!

Inspiration from Alcro

I just recieved a newsletter from Alcro, one of the biggest paint manufacturers in Sweden, with some new colour inspiration for the winter months. The colour in focus is Saffron, which is a great accent to brighten up your rooms now that it's so cold and dark outside. The picture below is styled by Lotta Agaton, one of Sweden's top interior stylists, and if you'd like to know more about her, her thoughts on this assignment and tips on trends and styling in general, there is an interview (in Swedish) on Alcro's website. For this pic, Lotta was given a can of Saffron paint to do whatever she fancied with. She chose to get fleamarket items, spraypaint them all, and mix with a candlestick from Asplund and a lamp by Jaime Hayon, to try and get away from the minimalism that has governed in Swedish magazines and ads for some time now.

For more products in yellow, check out the newsletter on Alcro's site.