The Danish Summer House is a story about different people coming together to realise a client’s dream. Tollgard Design Group completed the project alongside renowned architect Knud Holscher on the island of Fanø located off Southwestern Denmark.
Elle Decoration Germany has featured our project in their latest issue.
Interestingly I thought it was just a Northern European idea, but the red thread of fate binds lovers together in Eastern mythology too. It’s a trail of breadcrumbs scattered through a piece of creative work that constantly reminds you what’s important or relevant about a particular piece of work. It’s very helpful in editing a design.
There are so many great ideas and suppliers to choose from, but once you have distilled the red thread from the clues your client and the architecture have given you, you can hold each new idea against the red thread and then either let it go or draw it in. It ensures that at the end of a project it feels coherent and distinct from any other. It is telling a different story.
For Cleveland Square the ‘red thread’ was seeing that the house acted as a gallery space. Each piece was then weighed against this notion. Could it stand up as a distinctive piece of art or sculpture? If not, it didn’t belong in this design.The ‘red thread’ is also about collections. A design is a cluster of decisions, artefacts and materials that are important to our client.
I have recently read a beautiful book by Edmund de Waal who uses a collection of Japanese ceramic figures as the starting point for a journey through European history. I was so inspired by this quote–
“How objects are handed on is all about story-telling. I am giving you this because I love you. Or because it was given to me. Because I bought it somewhere special. Because you will care for it. Because it will complicate your life. Because it will make someone else envious. There is no easy story in legacy. What is remembered and what is forgotten?”
The pieces that our clients want to weave a story around are so important.
Britain’s love affair with all things Scandi has been a cultural phenomenon, from crime-thriller box sets to midcentury furniture, Ikea and the cosy cult of hygge. Step into many a middle-class London home and you’d be forgiven for thinking you were in Stockholm. But what does the British home of a Scandi designer look like?
Staffan Tollgård, a Swede who has lived in Britain since 1996 and runs an interior design firm in Belgravia, has brought a bit of Scandi style to his family home in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, but he’s avoided the clichés. “The stereotypical Scandi look is blond wood floors, white walls, contemporary art and a few design classics, such as Hansen’s Wishbone chair or Arne Jacobsen’s Series 7 chair,” says Tollgard, 46. “And you’d have a white kitchen with simple tiles. Scandi is a good aesthetic — everything looks right — but it doesn’t celebrate individuality.
I love that, in London, you can see a man walking down the street in a yellow suit. That would never happen in Stockholm.” Tollgard’s home is certainly a true original. Designed with his wife and business partner, Monique, 42, it’s a six-bedroom, three-storey house that was built in 2014, which makes the couple part of a rare breed: designers or architects who don’t live in a period house. They bought it in 2015, when they were living in Bayswater, west London; they wanted their two boys, Leo, 11, and Elliot, 8 , to grow up outside the big smoke and close to their maternal grandparents, who live nearby.
The interiors also set them apart from the crowd: they’ve done the impossible and made a grey colour scheme look fresh. There’s no Elephant’s Breath on the walls — it’s a Dulux custom blend. And the grey is a canvas for dazzling jolts of colour: acid yellows, cherry reds, royal blues. The sofa is an enormous grey L-shaped number by Living Divani, an Italian manufacturer, but it’s dotted with cheery cushions in midcentury-style graphics by an English designer, Eleanor Pritchard. Behind it is an Anglo-Scandi burst of colour: four abstract lithographs, all dots and stripes and primary colours, by the young British artist Mark Francis, which was created at Edition Copenhagen studio. “We’re bold, but not brash,” Tollgard says. “Brash is shiny and bling. We’re humble. We don’t like interiors that try too hard.” Another design achievement: they have made the grey interiors feel warm and cosy.
There’s a woodburner and the floors are dark wood, rather than Scandi blond. But don’t call it hygge, the hard-topronounce Danish aesthetic. “Hygge is candles, blankets and cable-knit, and an open fire,” Tollgard says. “We do have the fire, but we’ve thrown in colour and our art frames are in Perspex boxes.” Monique, who is South African but knows her Scandi design, chimes in: “Hygge is a sameness, lots of layers, but without anything popping or being too different.” Nor is their style lagom, billed as the Swedish successor to hygge. “Lagom is not a design term, it’s more a cultural sensibility,” Tollgard says. “It means not too much, not too little, don’t show off.” If the Tollgards have an aesthetic, then it’s industrial craft. There’s lots of steel.
The kitchen cupboards are finished in a cloudy bronzed steel by the Italian firm De Castelli. A Modo ball chandelier, all black ironmongery and filament bulbs, feels vintage industrial, yet is new. “We love American lighting,” Tollgard says. “Companies in New York and Philadelphia are producing fantastic new designs in old industrial styles. This is raw steel done in a bold and beautiful way.”
Thank you to everyone who joined us for the launch party last week, we had a great time sharing the story of Finn Juhl with you.
On Thursday evening last week we celebrated the showcase of the Finn Juhl collection at the Staffan Tollgård Design Store. The exhibit included two lounges of exquisite furniture pieces designed by Finn Juhl, now produced by One Collection. The newest re-launch, the France Chair, was one of the elements featured. The FJ 136, as the chair was originally called, for France & Son for the American market in 1956. Today the chair has been renamed the France Chair with permission from James France.
If you have any queries about the collection, please contact Erik.
Weaving The Red Thread
Staffan and Monique’s home is for sale through Domus Nova. Below is an excerpt from their interview of Staffan.
What was your route into design? Although a baptism by fire, I am very grateful to the Inchbald for helping me translate a passion for design into a tangible and very focused education. I emerged with a strong insight into how to create functional and livable spaces, and the foundations of the language of design that an Inchbald education gives you.
Although a baptism by fire, I am very grateful to the Inchbald for helping me translate a passion for design into a tangible and very focused education. I emerged with a strong insight into how to create functional and livable spaces, and the foundations of the language of design that an Inchbald education gives you.
How does your background in film translate into or influence your work now? Both Monique and I came from the world of film. That’s how we told stories. Now we tell our clients’ stories. They have chosen to live in a particular place, in a particular kind of architecture and in a very personal way. They have probably travelled and brought back important memories of times and places with them. We want to bring these together to tell a simplified, single story that binds environment, architecture, function and character. It’s important to tell one story; to choose from the many clues and influences the single, important strand that can run through a design.
We’ve evolved a short hand for this, the ‘red thread’.