All things Scan­di­na­vian

Here’s a place that will ap­peal to fans of stylishly sim­ple Scan­di­na­vian de­sign.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - SPACES - By LEONG SIOK HUI star2@thes­tar.com.my

IN 2009, when Amelia Tham and her fam­ily were mov­ing house, she couldn’t find the fur­ni­ture she had been see­ing in mag­a­zines and de­sign blogs.

“There wasn’t a store in Malaysia that was fo­cused on qual­ity, mod­ern Scan­di­na­vian style,” re­calls Tham of her favourite de­sign style.

For those who cov­eted the clean, sim­ple lines, or­ganic shapes and time­less­ness of fur­nish­ings from these Nordic coun­tries – Den­mark, Fin­land, Swe­den and Nor­way – the op­tions were pa­thetic. One ei­ther set­tled for cheap knock­offs or the ubiq­ui­tous, ready-toassem­ble pieces from the gi­ant home fur­nish­ing brand. Or, you paid through your nose for iconic de­signs from the likes of Arne Ja­cob­sen, Alvar Aalto and Poul Kjærholm.

So Tham de­cided to “fill the gap”, and started SMUK Liv­ing.

Open­ing its doors in 2011, Smuk – the word means “beau­ti­ful” in Dan­ish – show­cases con­tem­po­rary Scan­di­na­vian de­signs in its se­lec­tion of fur­ni­ture, light­ing, table­ware and soft fur­nish­ings.

With a flair for good de­sign, Tham sniffs out de­sign clas­sics and one-of-a-kind prod­ucts and brands that come pack­aged with in­ter­est­ing sto­ries.

Peren­nial clas­sics in­clude the String shelf, a shelv­ing sys­tem from Swe­den de­signed by Nils Strin­ning in 1949, and the enam­elled steel Krenit bowls, first in­tro­duced in 1953 by Dan­ish en­gi­neer Her­bert Krenchel.

De­spite its light­weight struc­ture and “float­ing” look, the String shelves are durable and sta­ble, and have been handed down through gen­er­a­tions of fam­i­lies in Swe­den. An ar­che­typal Dan­ish min­i­mal­ist de­sign, the Krenit bowl re­flects a har­mo­nious union be­tween func­tion and aes­thet­ics.

The bowl snagged the gold medal at the 1954 Mi­lan Tri­en­nale for its form (its shape set the trend for later de­signs of bowls) and for the then tech­ni­cal chal­lenge in coat­ing thin steel with enamel. Dan­ish de­sign brand Nor­mann Copen­hagen, known for its in­no­va­tive and play­ful ap­proach to de­sign, re­launched the Krenit bowls in 2008.

Jux­ta­pos­ing the clas­sics at Smuk are pieces from con­tem­po­rary Nordic de­sign­ers who team up with rel­a­tively young but dy­namic de­sign brands like Den­mark-based HAY, Mu­uto and Lightyears.

Hay was founded in 2002 with the aim to Ahead of its time: among some of the clas­sic de­signs Smuk Liv­ing

of­fers if the norm 69 lamp de­signed by dan­ish ar­chi­tect Si­mon Karkov in 1969. The lamp was only put into pro­duc­tion when

it be­came the first prod­uct launched by nor­mann Copen­hagen in 2002. It comes in 69 pieces that any­one can as­sem­ble with­out the

use of any tools or glue. — Pho­tos from Smuk Liv­ing “en­cour­age Dan­ish fur­ni­ture de­sign’s re­turn to the in­no­va­tive great­ness of the 1950s and 1960s in a con­tem­po­rary con­text.”

Known for its ac­ces­si­ble and af­ford­able prod­ucts, Hay does a good job of nur­tur­ing young tal­ents like Swedish de­signer Clara von Zweig­bergk who came up with the candy-coloured, geo­met­ric-shaped Kaleido trays; or pro­mot­ing ris­ing de­sign stars like Am­s­ter­dam-based Scholten & Bai­jings, whose Colour Glass (glass­ware) gar­nered rave re­views when it was launched in 2013.

While it sticks to its Scan­di­na­vian flavours, Hay also col­lab­o­rates with in­ter­na­tional de­sign­ers like the in­flu­en­tial French de­sign­ers Ro­nan and Er­wan Bouroul­lec (Copen­h­ague collection of ta­bles and chairs), and Lon­don­based Doshi Le­vien for the Uchiwa arm­chair, re­cently un­veiled at the Salone del Mo­bile 2014.

Not un­like Hay, Copen­hagen-based Mu­uto teams up with an im­pres­sive line-up of well­known Nordic de­sign­ers like Harri Kosk­i­nen of Fin­land and de­sign trio Nor­way Says to

amelia Tham gave up an IT ca­reer to set up Smuk Liv­ing when she couldn’t find the Scan­di­na­vian de­signs she wanted for her house. — yaP CHee HOnG/The Star

Prince Chair by Louis Poulsen for Hay. The chair is part of the per­ma­nent collection at new york’s Mu­seum of Mod­ern art.

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