Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Lars Bolander's Scandinavian Design

The long awaited guide to Scandinavian Design by Lars Bolander and Heather Smith MacIsaac.

Rhonda and I featured the Palm Beach aerie of Swedish designer Lars Bolander and his wife Nadine
Kalachnikoff in our first book Swedish Interiors and that chapter remains a favorite among our readers and in our memory as a most delightful  photoshoot.   When we heard that Lars' newly released and aptly named Lars Bolander's Scandinavian Design was about to be released by Vendome Press we called Lars up at his summer home on the island of Oland, Sweden to congratulate him. Wait till you see this book!  A comprehensive overview of all aspects of Scandinavian design, the book, written with Heather MacIsaac, is a visual delight as well as being a serious resources guide for anyone interested in the tenants of Scandinavian decor.

Lars was kind enough to take a break away form his gardening to answer some questions for us
about his life, Scandinavian design and what it means to be a Swede - all be it a very international one!

Lars in the garden at the entrance to
Carl Malmsten's school, Capellagarden in Oland, Sweden.

How did the idea of doing a comprehensive reference book on Scandinavian Design with Heather come about?
Lars Bolander (L.B.):   Alex Gregory, the founder of Vendome press (made after Place Vendome in Paris) called me a couple of years ago and asked me if I had any interest in writing such a book.

Why is the Scandinavian aesthetic so pertinent to the way we live today?
L.B.  It is a more functional way of living, which what is needed now. People are more concerned with the Green Factor and this fits in very much in the way we live now.

What are some Scandinavian places and interiors that still feed your soul?
L.B. The old town of Stockholm, the home of Carl Larsson, The Copper Tents and the Pavilion in The Haga Park in Stockholm. The boat trip from Gothenburg to Stockholm on the Gota Kanal. In Denmark, the Museum and Gardens of the Louisiana outside Copenhagan.

Lars, you were fortunate enough to work with the great Carl Malmsten. Can you elaborate for our readers on how Malmsten's designs were rooted in authentic Swedish nature and culture? How has Malmsten's philosophy found its way into your own work?
L.B.    Purely because of the clean and simple lines of his furniture, also classical and very Swedish. I would say that his respect for nature and the appreciation of life are what have influenced my work. He got the maximum out of his people because he earned their respect.

Entrance to Lars Bolander and Nadine Kalacnikoff's home Might- As- Well, which overlooks
the grounds of Carl Malmsten's Capellagarden.

May we ask...Bergman or Garbo?
L.B.    Greta Garbo.
Stockholm or Gothenburg?
L.B.  Stockholm.

A tablescape of glass and silver at Might-As-Well.
It doesn't get much more Swedish than this...

Summer Swede or Winter Swede?
L.B.  Each has it's own beauty.

               Hallway at Lars and Nadine's Might-As-Well.

Favorite Abba song?
L.B.  Take a Chance on Me

The livingroom at Might-As-Well.


If you could pick one figure from history to design for it would be...
L.B.   A woman, it would be Catherine the Great (mainly for financial reasons).
A man it would be Gustaf the III.

A private view from Lars and Nadine's kitchen window of the gardens and
workshops of Capellagarden.  We hope to soon do another post on this amazing school
 founded by Carl Malmsten...Lars has inspired us!

Here are some sumptuous photos and captions as they appear in the new book,
Lars Bolander's Scandinavian Design:

"Architects Gert and Karin Wingårdh provide the residents with a more direct connection
to their waterfront land. A new glass-fronted bay framed in red."

"Though many of the elements in this eighteenth-century Swedish living
room display age and wear, the overall effect is fresh
and inviting. A delicate floral fabric for the sofa’s squabs,
along with pieces of blue and white porcelain,
brightens the otherwise muted tone."

"Sailors and a ship caught amid floral flourishes reference
the coastal location of a barn in Norway. "

"A dogtrot-style breezeway in Gert and Karin Wingardh's contemporary addition to a traditional Swedish farmhouse brings dining closer to nature, with no need to run for cover. The painted walls and ceiling pick up the color of grass outside, framing the view in bright green."

"A bed placed in the middle of the space establishes an equanimity that enhances rest."

Grass roofs are ubiquitous throughout Scandinavia

"Tailored white slipcovers bring an exquisite
1770s Swedish dining room down to earth."

The other driving force behind this compilation of inspiring images and practical  how to instruction is the great editor/writer Heather Smith MacIsaac whose work appears regularly in Elle Decor and Travel and Leisure among other.  Heather shared with us her experience of writing the book.

Heather Smith MacIsaac

Had you worked with Lars in the past?
Heather MacIsaac (H.M.) : I've never worked with Lars before but liked him immediately. We quickly discovered we had sympathetic sensibilities and ideas for the book.

What were your experiences with Scandinavian design prior to this book?
H.M.  I've always been an appreciator of Scandinavian design for its simplicity, directness, and pragmatic quality. My contact with it has come through reporting on design and traveling to Scandinavia (primarily Sweden.)

Had you travelled extensively in the region before?
H.M.  I've always been an appreciator of Scandinavian design for its simplicity, directness, and pragmatic quality. My contact with it has come through reporting on design and traveling to Scandinavia (primarily Sweden.)

What new things did you discover or take away from the experience of writing this book?
H.M.   I have not traveled nearly as much as I would like through all of Scandinavia. I  have seen more of Sweden than any of the other countries. I just got back from a trip that took me to Gotland, Fjallnas (seven hrs. north of Stockholm) and a place three hours west of Stockholm. I would say traveling in Sweden is as easy as touring around the U.S. Things are well-marked, communication is never a problem, and the gas station bathrooms are always clean! And Swedish beds are the best. It was great to visit Sweden, having recently finished the book, because I knew so much more about what I was seeing.
I learned a tremendous amount about the differences, some subtle, some dramatic, between the countries in terms of design, palette, and craft. It's always interesting to see how things like natural resources, geography, even the interests of one influential figure, affect design. I had to do a fair amount of research for the book which was more than fine because I love history. Finally, I think one can't come away from an in-depth study of Scandinavian design without a renewed appreciation of nature and a desire to integrate it more in one's life.

Swedish Summer at the idyllic Might-As-Well.

History, design, nature and craft...what a fantastic journey Heather and Lars take us on in this book.  Many, many thanks to Lars and Heather for including Eleish van Breems as a resource for antiques, reproduction Swedish furniture made in Sweden and design in the Resource Guide found in the back of their book!   We are so honored!  Thank you Lars!  Thank you Heather!

Lars is back from Sweden and will be appearing this weekend for a book signing  in Southampton at the Nancy Corzine store.  The event is Saturday, August 28th from 3:00 pm - 6:00 pm at Nancy Corzine, 5 Main Street, Southampton.  Tel.  631-287-8606.

For more Swedish design and inspiration...
Visit the Lars Bolander showrooms in New York and Palm Beach Here.
Visit us at Eleish van Breems Here. and Eleish van Breems on 1st Dibs Here.

Our great friend Monikka at Splendid Willow did a must read interview with Lars Here.


  1. What an amazing interview! Thank you girls!

    The images. The images!! Where to start!? There is so much here that I love that I nearly fell over backwards! This book will definitely be a staple in the bookshelf - the cover had me drooling. Just look at that fantastic green wall with the artwork as a backdrop to the gorgeous bronze bust! And the lightness of the furniture as a contrast!! Like a dollop of cream on top of the perfect dessert.

    Feeling utterly inspired by this.

    Swedish hugs from Sydney.
    xx Charlotta

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  3. This is such a fine mix of the Swedish sense of perspective and color with a superb blend of then and now. Looking forward to more.

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  4. The photos are lovely. Each of those homes has it's unique style and taste.

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