Cre­ative calm

Serene spa­ces can be bright too. In Stock­holm’s new­est co-work­ing space, splashes of red and jade green take in­spi­ra­tion from East­ern de­sign’s more play­ful side

ELLE Decoration (UK) - - Modern Oriental - MOD­ERN ORIENTA L Words EMMA LOVE Photography JAMES STOKES

Stock­holm’s new cre­ative co-work­ing

mem­bers’ club, Alma, opened its doors ear­lier this year in a build­ing that once housed a school of de­sign. The care­fully re-imag­ined space is di­vided into so­cial and work zones, a cen­tral atrium restau­rant, a cof­fee bar and the first Euro­pean out­post of Aus­tere, the fur­ni­ture con­cept store founded by Fredrik Carl­ström. Carl­ström is also cre­ative di­rec­tor at Alma, and it was he that en­listed Stock­holm ar­chi­tects Tham & Videgård to work on the project.

The aes­thetic of the space is un­doubt­edly Scan­di­na­vian, but there are key el­e­ments of the in­te­rior that chime won­der­fully with the prin­ci­ples of mod­ern ori­en­tal de­sign: the strik­ing splashes of Chi­nese red, the ex­quis­ite ceram­ics and the mar­ry­ing of the con­tem­po­rary with hand­crafted de­tails. ‘ When you cre­ate a space, the most fun­da­men­tal as­pects are light, colour and ma­te­ri­als. Th­ese are all things that many peo­ple would agree con­nect Scan­di­na­vian and Asian de­sign,’ says Bolle Tham, co-founder at Tham & Videgård. ‘ You should never overdec­o­rate – it’s im­por­tant to en­sure that the ar­chi­tec­ture and de­sign feels serene.’

Three char­ac­ter­is­tics are con­sis­tent through­out the space: the three-tone ce­ramic tiles, which were laid to em­u­late a tra­di­tional par­quet floor, the grey walls and the ‘ W171 Alma’ ceil­ing lights, de­signed by Tham & Videgård for Wäst­berg. ‘ We liked the idea that if you look quickly at the floor, it seems as though it’s al­ways been there, but each batch of tiles are a slightly dif­fer­ent shade,’ Tham con­tin­ues. This echoes the prin­ci­ple of wabi-sabi, the Ja­panese no­tion of cel­e­brat­ing beauty in im­per­fec­tion.

Rather than restor­ing each wall, Tham & Videgård de­cided to clad them in wood, which was then painted in grey tones. ‘ We wanted to cre­ate a pure space. We see the walls as a back­drop that will al­low the at­mos­phere of Alma to change and de­velop over the years. We chose a cosy grey, so that the space feels calm and homely.’

Ad­di­tional mod­ern ori­en­tal twists are ev­i­dent in the sim­ple, or­ganic table­ware by Danish pot­ter Rikard Palmquist, stoneware ce­ramic sculp­tures by Tufva De­sign and the clean lines of the ‘Ar­row’ desk and chair by Erik Järkil for Aus­tere. ‘Rikard’s pieces needed to re­tain their hand­made qual­ity, with im­per­fec­tions and per­son­al­ity. Then, with the in­te­rior, I wanted to ex­press hu­mil­ity with the choices of fur­ni­ture and light­ing,’ ex­plains Carl­ström. ‘Al­though there is noth­ing flashy about Alma, it still feels quite lux­u­ri­ous, and I did spend a tremen­dous amount of time pick­ing pieces that I felt hon­oured ma­te­rial, form and func­tion over any un­nec­es­sary frills. I be­lieve that is what makes it beau­ti­ful, and will make Alma wear nicely with time.’ thi­;

Left The ‘ Valet’ chair by Hans J Weg­ner for PP Møbler (avail­able at Twen­tytwen­ty­one) sits in a cor­ner of the atrium restau­rant, next to the ‘Ar­row’ stool by Erik Järkil for Aus­tere. The shelves are lined with cups by Carl Au­gust Sand­gren and Rikard...

Left A ‘To­gether’ bench by Ilse Craw­ford for De La Es­pada (avail­able at Twen­tytwen­ty­one) runs along the back of the mem­bers’ lounge area. The ‘Turn­ing’ ta­ble by Theresa Arns for Menu (avail­able at Nest) dis­plays a cup and teapot by Rikard Palmquist...

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