I’m just back from a captivating trip to Copenhagen and Stockholm, and while I did not snag a reservation at the coveted Noma in the former (although I did eat a number of glorious meals big on white asparagus and rhubarb cooked by alums of the ‘World’s Best Restaurant’), and skipped any trite homages to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in the latter, I am sitting in sensory overloaded New York with perhaps the best souvenir of all: a newfound reference for simplicity.
I could go on about the beauty of Stockholm, particularly while walking over the bridge from the city’s center to the quiet of Skeppsholmen island, or how watching Copenhagen’s bikers make their way to work, one after the other in a fluid, organic procession, became a hypnotizing ritual for me. Both geography and transportation certainly offer great insight into the purity that guides the cultures of these two cities.
But it was seeing (and delving into the history of) the minimalist design Scandinavia is known for that inspired me most. After eating in spare after spare (but never cold) restaurant, taking in the excellent New Nordic Architecture & Identity exhibition at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, spotting a multitude of Egg chairs, and perusing the hardcover books showcasing Scandinavian homes in the bookstores of the Swedish Museum of Architecture and the Danish Architecture Center, I want to tear apart my mismatched living room, blindly throw out the junk cluttering my bathroom cabinet, and turn in my antique, paint-chipped secretary for a sleek, modern shelving system instead. Forty-eight hours later, so far so good. My clunky radio-alarm hybrid, now thrown in a corner of the hallway to be recycled, has been replaced by Arne Jacobsen’s small, white, iconic clock.