Sweden and the other Scandinavian countries may have been late to embrace modernism, however, when they did, they did so with open arms. In the 1930's, modern architecture came to represent the Social Democratic vision of emancipation. At a time when anti-Semitism was promoted by some governments, King Charles XIV of Sweden had already granted Jews legal protection and civil rights in 1838. As the hostile persecution escalated and expanded to envelop Modern designers, Sweden welcomed them as well. The Modern architecture of the 1930 Stockholm Exhibition was light, airy, restrained, and optimistic, which made it ideal for representing the egalitarian political reform for the increasingly urbanized city. Swedish homes were traditionally designed around a warm hearth, rich woods, and bright colors, but because the surge in Modern design in Scandinavia was spurred by conditions of exile, I believe Swedish Modernism took on a more humanistic and calming aesthetic than that of other locales. Bruno Mathsson (1907-1988) was one leading Swedish architect and furniture designer who mastered the art of comfort. Drawing inspiration from the organic forms of nature and the study of ergonomics, he created a line of bent wood seating including the Pernilla chair, which is, in my opinion, arguably the most comfortable chair yet designed. Rather than a passing phase, contemporary Swedish architecture today seems to have inherited this cool yet calming persona.
The latest example is the Treehotel, an amalgam of individually standing hotel rooms in a forest near Harads, just 60 km south of the Arctic Circle. The mastermind behind the project, Kent Lindvall, dreamed of a hotel of sorts where each room stood alone in the woods and was utterly unique in design. He commissioned different architects for each room, and thus, each unit takes a wholly different approach to relaxation in the woods. The mirrorcube is as you would expect, a cube-shaped unit with mirrored-glass on all sides, allowing it to blend in with its surroundings. What you wouldn't expect is that it is, like the rest of the units, elevated 4-6 meters off the ground. In 5 years time, the Treehotel complex will consist of 24 units designed by 24 different architects. Each unit is state-of-the-art, high-design, and eco-friendly; Lindvall sought to make as little an impact on the pristine forest that envelops the complex. Rather than opting to offer guests a snowmobile safari, he offers them guided treks through the landscape. At the Treehotel, guests find serenity in their solitary unit and a oneness with the nature they are perched within.
For a more in-depth look at the design of individual Treehotel units, read the article posted on designboom.
Caroline Engel for Danish Teak Classics