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
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.’ thisisalma.com; tvark.se
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...