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