Last month, I was privileged to be invited for a 4-day, 3-night trip to the southernmost county of Sweden by Visit Sweden and Visit Skåne. It’s not an area you hear about much, I admit. I’d been to Stockholm in the past (and loved it) and of course, I was familiar with Sweden’s ‘second city’, Gothenburg, but Skåne was unknown to me prior to this visit. What I found, however, was an incredibly vibrant artistic community, warm and friendly residents, gorgeous food, cobbled streets and more design inspiration than you can shake a birch twig at.
What I loved most about Malmö was its artistic spirit and this incredible sense of community it had. It reminded me a lot of Manchester, to be honest. As Stockholm became too expensive, many artists and creators flocked to Malmö instead, driven by cheaper prices and ultimately, where they banded together into a supportive community. The city has so many beautiful old buildings but it’s also bursting with the new, exciting and the up-and-coming. It makes it a wonderful place to see how Sweden has changed over the years, mixing the past with the present.
Hanna Butler and Karin Olu Lindgård are the duo behind textile designers Butler/Lingard. Their designs are bold and energetic, often taking inspiration from the female body and challenging how it is represented. It was rather slightly subversive which I loved. Boobs, body hair and feminism are all themes throughout but the designs themselves are delightfully playful and surprisingly easy to incorporate.
Form Design Centre is a three-story building in a fabulous 16th-century granary warehouse which functions both as an architectural and design stage for exhibitions as well as a social space for workshops, lectures or public debates. It is a hub for the design scene in Malmö and it’s shop, on the third floor, showcases everything from smaller independent crafts, gifts, books and jewellery to well-known Swedish designers and artisans.
Formagruppen is an artists’ cooperative with a shop and a gallery in downtown Malmö. The 20 members are professional craft artists working with different materials. All the artists are regional and most of them can be visited in their studios as well as in the shop. The gallery shows a new exhibition every month, where visitors can meet new, conceptual and crossover expressions within the contemporary crafts scene.
Perfect for those who love Scandinavian design and a spot of shopping, AB Småland has an incredible range of home interiors and fashion in organic or recycled materials which blend effortlessly with unique vintage furniture, plants and a rather fantastic café.
A huge food market, Malmõ Saluhall promises everything from traditionally made matcha tea to freshly caught fish, artisan chocolates to sausages. The gorgeous building is the perfect spot for fikka or a full meal. It’s actually rather a beautiful place as well, designed in red brick and monochrome, it’s a rather delicious place just to look around and steal some design ideas as well. What do you mean, you’ve never considered hanging a giant squid from your ceiling?
And finally, stay at the wonderful Story Hotel which seems to cater to every single one of a traveller’s needs. Of all the places we stayed, this was the one I found the most comfortable and the most intuitive in terms of an overnight stay. The rooms are well designed with large picture windows overlooking the pier, bench seating and plenty of spots to relax (other than just the bed), big bathrooms with luxury products and the most comfortable bed and linens which meant I had an excellent night’s sleep – something I often find hard to come by in a strange bed!
The top floor restaurant at the Story Hotel is also a must-visit. The Asian cuisine is beautifully prepared and the setting is spectacular with an outside viewing deck that promises incredible views overlooking the city.
The city of Lund, about 30 minutes south of Malmö, has a decidedly different sort of a vibe. Traditional and quaint, with beautiful architecture, old buildings and cobbled streets, it’s a university city with a bustling undercurrent of tradition. It was a short visit to this area but I’d love to return as there are plenty of things to see and do in this historic hotspot.
You’ll definitely feel as though you’ve walked straight into a Wes Anderson film when walking into the very grand Grand Hotel. The hotel is deliciously regal with marble, brass and stained glass throughout. I stayed in a single room, which admittedly was tiny with a single bed (bizarrely, I woke up in the night thinking I was on a train carriage) but it was immaculately decorated and the restaurant is an altogether elegant affair. Go for a slightly larger room where you can stretch out just a bit and bring something a little special to wear for your stay.
This was probably the most surprising place we visited and definitely one of my favourites. Skissernas Museum, “Museum of Artistic Process and Public Art” is a unique location that focuses on the artistic creative process and features the world’s largest collection of sketches, models and preparatory work for Swedish and international public art.
This may sound a bit dull but it was a fascinating exploration into the design process and it’s large exhibition rooms (and they are large as there was a collective “wow” when we walked into one of the main spaces) hold modern and contemporary art. Here, you’ll find everything from small pencil drawings to colourful, monumental paintings and large-scale plaster sculptures. There are sketches by international artists such as Henri Matisse, Sonia Delaunay, Henry Moore and Fernand Léger, and one of Europe’s foremost collections of sketches by Mexican monumental painters such as Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros.
Small but perfectly formed, Zimmerdahl Antiques & Design is tucked into the main heart of Lund and is perfect for treasure-seekers. Specialising in design from 1925 to 1975, there are so many wonderful vintage pieces to see and admire, from Art Deco jewellry to original mid-century classics. We spent over an hour in this shop, speaking to the staff who were not only incredibly knowledgeable but also warm and inviting – it’s a very special place and definitely one for design lovers.
I would also highly encourage a visit to the beautiful Botaniska Trädgården, a historic site from 1862 which houses over 7000 species from around the world and is operated by Lund University alongside The National Property Board of Sweden. From a stunning garden with a huge collection of trees and shrubs to a rock garden and indoor glass houses brimming with botanicals, this is a plant and nature-lover’s paradise.
As you can see, it was an incredibly packed trip full of design inspiration and it’s one I’ll not soon forget. I’d love to know if you’ve ever explored this part of Sweden and if not, is it a place you’ll be adding to your wish list?
Disclaimer: My visit was paid for by Visit Sweden and Visit Skåne. I have not been paid for my review and of course, all images, words and opinions are my very own. Thanks so much for supporting the brands that support Swoon Worthy.