TV and film can’t get enough of the Nordic influence, but North London shows that its influence doesn’t stop there. Gabriella Werre rounds up the many people and places showing us the Scandinavian way
Every now and again society, by some form of trickle down procedure, decides that what’s cool is cool, generating a craze that snowballs. It’s exactly what has happened with all things Scandinavian, as us North Londoners know only too well.
Take Fabrique (fabrique.co.uk), a quaint Swedish bakery that resides under arch 285 on Geffrye Street. ‘We always dreamt about opening our own bakery,’ says co-owner Charlotta Zetterström, referencing her husband, David. In 2008, their dreams came true as they first opened in Stockholm, Sweden; some six years later they found a gap in the London market for healthy, rustic artisanal sourdough bread. ‘For us, we do it the same way as we do in Sweden, using the same recipes,’ explains Charlotta.
Scandinavians have a precise approach to everything they do; it’s both uncomplicated and unmatched. Instead of conforming, the couple chose to introduce and incorporate a new way of baking to London culture. ‘I think once you’ve tasted this type of bread you don’t want to go back,’ Charlotta proclaims.
Food is certainly one aspect of Scandinavian life we are welcoming with open arms. Trine Hahnemann, who has a home in North London, is author of Scandinavian Baking (out now, published by Quadrille). ‘Baking is engrained into every Scandinavian soul,’ says Trine. Like Charlotta, Trine continues to validate that baking is a quintessential and vital aspect of everyday Scandinavian life, and people here are starting to pick up on that idea. ‘It’s all about the Hygge,’ she tells me, ‘which is a word with no direct translation, but conjures up a way of living – coziness.’ To put it in perspective, a good cup of tea on a rainy day with a dimly lit candle is Hygee.
What if home cooking isn’t a specialty and you want to experience Scandinavian food out of the house? Aveqia in Farringdon (aveqia.co.uk) comes up with a unique solution. ‘When you’re at a restaurant, you’re stuck next to x, y, and z, but here everyone’s moving a lot throughout,’ Anna Chu, Operations Director, explains. When you arrive at the door, that’s when the gastronomical adventure commences. Each group has their own personal kitchen space, fully equipped with state of the art appliances, a Michelin star private chef who’s measured and sorted all of your ingredients prior and a set dining table to create a more intimate and homelike ambiance. ‘It’s a fine dining experience, with the added element of them having to create it themselves, and collaborate to achieve it,’ adds Anna. ‘It’s very egalitarian, which is also a very Scandinavian thing.’ When asked about the evident rise in Nordic lifestyle, Anna responds: ‘Scandinavian cooking is so hot here. Everything Scandinavian is so fresh in comparison. If you have great produce let it speak for itself rather than complicate it.’
Does that approach extend beyond food? Ӓlva (alvalondon.com), an online boutique, showcases all that Scandinavian style has to offer by housing talented and up and coming designers. ‘The style is very, very clean and very simple made with high quality materials,’ says boutique owner Mari Levin. Sanna Buckhoj, her business partner, adds: ‘It’s quite timeless, you can still wear it in ten years.’
Like most, Mari missed aspects of her lifestyle in Sweden when she moved to London. ‘London has a lot to offer, but not exactly the typical Scandinavian fashion that we were looking for. I was missing it.’ Nowadays, especially with the onset of all things Nordic, they’ve found ‘many more interesting brands to select’. A common characteristic in Scandinavian style is a classic, but perfect look. ‘It’s more difficult to produce simple things than over the top,’ says Mari. ‘It doesn’t matter what it is, that’s when you see the details. That’s when the details need to be perfect. Design is a lifestyle.’
Søren Møller, owner and creator of CrossEyes Nordic eyewear (crosseyes.co.uk), knows everything when it comes to design. Søren brings life to Scandinavian design by adding personality and functionalism in his products. ‘For me, glasses are the perfect fashion accessory to show who we are.’
When you visit CrossEyes it’s a personable experience, without any additional complication. The prices are completely fixed, and you can choose between over 350 pairs of glasses that are fully equipped with add-ons like scratch free lenses that you would have to pay for elsewhere.
When they decided to open a location in Clerkenwell, Søren and store owner Panos Nicolaou, saw London as ‘a very attractive market’. He explains: ‘I think that the heritage from the early design years combined with all the strong concepts coming from Scandinavia have created this Nordic hype.’ Everything from the exterior down to the shape of the glasses, ‘is a mix of it all: design, simplicity and very sharp. We are clean, simple and honest. Nordic for me is Scandinavian simplicity.’