Swedish Treasures

Day to Day

It is no secret that I like Swedish furniture. Furniture from the Gustavian period in particular is soft and pairs well with other walnut and mahogany pieces. Here we explore the history of these elegant pieces and share our favourite original and inspired designs...

When I travel I always like to come back with beautiful pieces from remote places: textiles and mirrors from India, sculptures and art from Africa and silks from China. There are so many interesting pieces in different countries that are impossible to resist.

Every culture embraces art and craft in their own way, and I love to see how this is interpreted differently depending on which part of the world you find yourself in.

It is no secret that I like Swedish furniture. Furniture from the Gustavian period in particular is soft, extremely elegant and pairs well with other walnut and mahogany pieces that followed in the early 1800s. We have some original Gustavian pieces that I love, such as this commode at Covent Garden Hotel.

The Gustavian period, from around 1775 to 1810, is the high point of Swedish style. When the future King Gustav III of Sweden returned from an extended stay in Versailles in 1771, he brought home with him a love of the neoclassical Louis XVI design. The more austere Swedish nature evolved the style into what we now know as Gustavian. The curves were gone, classical columns were back and legs were tapered in whitewashed woods and pale hues. Normally used with mirrors and glass lamps, the furniture was luminous in its appearance to compensate for the long northern winters and lack of sunlight.

Corner pieces in particular are an excellent accent to a dark corner as seen here at The Whitby Hotel.

Swedish-painted folk furniture is also well known. Decorative painted pieces used to be widespread in Scandinavia, and in many cases were used to commemorate something special. A painted trunk was a very popular wedding present. Such pieces normally bore the initials and date of the wedding, and so it was the perfect memento.

Of course we love to buy original pieces when we can, but where this isn’t possible we have been known to use Gustavian-inspired pieces.

Many of our rooms are home to bedside tables that are reminiscent of this era. We love how versatile they are and use them in different colours, depending on the scheme.

The same goes for wardrobes, they were the perfect gift to house all of the bride’s clothes in her new home. I love the strong delicacy and the fearless colours used on the exterior of these pieces and am always left to wonder who painted it – perhaps some relatives of the happy couple.

These pieces work very well against colourful walls as they are less obtrusive.

We would love to see your favourite pieces from other countries, or, if you have painted your own piece, show it to us on Instagram by tagging @kitkempdesignthread and #designthreads.

In our seventh floor loft space at Bergdorf Goodman, we used an impressive wardrobe which was beautifully painted in a Swedish-style. It now sits happily in a private house in New York. It is incredible how far it has travelled.