– a chic apartment in Denmark is filled with its fashion designer owner’s treasures
Hanne Bloch designs exclusive swimwear that is sold worldwide. She has travelled extensively all her life and has lived in Rome and Milan. When her two children, Olivia and Victor, left home, she couldn’t decide between a move to the countryside or to the centre of Copenhagen. In the end, instead of a rural lifestyle she opted for an amazing flat built in 1835 that is close to the sea and in the heart of the Danish capital city’s hustle and bustle.
The apartment had been completely renovated by the previous owner, an architect, who had an eye for exquisite detail: a marble floor in the kitchen and a beautiful minimalist bathroom made by bespoke Italian company Boffi.
The layout is ideal as Bloch can use the space as her home as well as a showroom, office and meeting room for her eponymous company.
“I come from Jelling, a small village where my mother was a little ahead in matters of decoration,” says Bloch.
“She had great style, and I think I’ve inherited her flair for organising. If I had not been working in fashion then I think I would have ended up in interior design.”
In 2008, after 20 years as a designer for the Italian fashion house Missoni, Bloch decided to launch her own company creating exclusive swimwear.
Citing her inspirations as daring colour combinations, beautiful fabrics, her father’s cufflinks and a love for refined details, Bloch launched her solo collection at Copenhagen Fashion Week in 2008.
After her long, distinguished career at Missoni, Bloch’s simple yet sexy and sophisticated approach
to her designs and signature use of finely crafted, hammered gold beading in her collections, has led to international acclaim for her swimwear and beachwear line. Her many years in Italy have also influenced her interest in interior design.
“I choose the unique, the inspiring and I like handmade items and furniture,” she says.
Many of the items on display in her home were transported from her childhood home.
“I grew up on a farm and many of the items in the apartment — like the big old glass bottles that my sister used to brew beer — come from the farm.”
Bloch has placed the bottles on her dining table and uses them as vases. “They are incredibly beautiful when they catch the light during the day. In the morning the kitchen is literally
bathed in sunlight, so I enjoy sitting here drinking my morning coffee,” she says.
The designer has allocated a small space on the dining room windowsill for her collection of wooden items, including tiny mice and two walnuts that feature carvings of naked women, a gift from an Italian friend.
The apartment had delicate brass handles on most of its doors and Bloch was so inspired by them she decided to incorporate them into her decorating plans.
“It got me thinking about integrating the brass as I decorated,” she says.
Once she had incorporated her brass treasures, Bloch found tables and other accessories with brass at auctions and in antique shops to accompany them. An enormous brass cupboard dominates the dining room. Bloch designed it herself and commissioned a blacksmith to bring her creation to life. Here she stores large dishes and other tableware.
Plants also feature heavily in Bloch’s apartment but not in the usual flowers-in-a-vase way. Huge fig and mimosa trees have been planted in pots to give the home an exotic feel.
Bloch also enjoys long walks in the area and in summertime goes swimming in the ocean. If she finds a beautiful branch she will bring it home to incorporate into her interior in some way, often in one of the African bowls and vases she chanced upon
I don’t really think about why I decorate as I do. I just fall in love with an item because I can feel that it will work in the space.
in an antique store some years ago.
She also treasures a collection of pitchers she was given by a Turkish family when she and her family lived in Ankara some years ago.
“The whole collection is very special to me. They cannot be bought anywhere as they belonged to the family,” she says.
None of the floors in the apartment are alike — the dining room floor was herringbone parquet in oak and the living room floor was pine. Bloch had trouble deciding how to get the two different floor types to look alike and in the end opted for dramatic black lacquer.
“It adds a nice contrast to the otherwise white space with wooden panels,” she says. “I like to mix styles and materials. Contrasts create life and ensure there is a certain balance.”
As an example of this, Bloch bought a bamboo chair from Normann Copenhagen as a sculpture and has offset its position in the dining room with a brass floor lamp from her childhood home. “The chair is a sculpture, really, but it is also good to sit in.”
Art also plays a key role in Bloch’s personal style. Each room features either one main eye-catching painting or a small collection grouped together.
A self-portrait of her daughter Olivia prevails over the living room and a large painting by Danish artist Kresten Havgaard complements the decor in the kitchen.
Black and white images grouped together in a corner complete the dramatic look.
The kitchen is minimalist with cool marble floors, which Bloch contrasted with a time-worn wooden table and matching stools. She feels it represents the organic, soft and warm side of her personality and creates the necessary balance in the room.
“I don’t really think about why I decorate as I do. I just fall in love with an item because I can feel it will work in the space,” she says.
Bloch uses the same intuition and feeling to work out whether a design works in her business.
Her office is arranged around a large working table in the centre of the room. A dramatic, sculpture-like Flos lamp arcs over the table to create a statement of style.
Her daughter Olivia, who has studied at the Parsons School of Design in New York, has just begun working with her. Among her responsibilities, Olivia monitors the brand’s social media and helps when a new collection is to be designed.
“Olivia contributes with dedication, intuition and ferocity, as can be seen in our latest collection,” says Bloch.
“She interprets the elegant and feminine look, and this has given our collections a little more of an edge. She is also very creative and has made several works of art in my home.”
Quality is important to Bloch and she is not a fan of the purchase-and-throw-away culture so prevalent today.
“It is important to me that what I buy for my home or manufacture in my company is of high quality and long-lasting.
“I prefer to have just one really nice thing than many things we quickly get tired of. My home has become an expression of my whole life, both then and now.”
I prefer to have just one really nice thing than many things we quickly get tired of. My home has become an expression of my whole life, both then and now.
Above: Bloch’s daughter Olivia has joined her business and given the latest collection “a little more edge”. Below: a large fig tree adds an exotic touch to the living room.
Above left: the large glass bottles and jars come from Bloch’s childhood home where they were used for home-brewed beer. She now uses them as vases and has placed them where they catch the light. Right, above and below: carved wooden treasures, including tiny mice, are on display on the living room windowsill.
Above: a bikini from Bloch’s current collection.
Left: candlesticks continue the brass theme throughout the apartment. The plaster cast hands are of Bloch’s children, Olivia and Victor.
Above left: a string lampshade updates the look of the brass floor lamp. The bamboo chair was bought as a sculpture but can be used as
seating. Above right: a large stainless steel fridge takes up an entire wall in the kitchen.
Above: pink towels help soften the look of the Boffi bathroom and tie in with its marble shower. Below: a small hallway lies between the dining room and guest room.