Sunday, August 26, 2007

Day Five: Stockholm Design Store Tour

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As UPS is off duty over weekends, I take a tour of design stores in Stockholm all day. As most stores in Stockholm close by 4pm on Saturday (and often all day on Sunday), I leave home by 11am when most stores open.

The tour starts at Stadion tunnelbana station. Walk down on Sibyllegatan street takes you first to Jacksons, recommended by Wallpaper* City Guide. It's a classy atmosphere with expensive chairs and glass and ceramic bases. Not my taste.

Next Asplund, both Time Out and Wallpaper* recommendation. A very cool store with cool music in the background. Find a stylish beige pepper mill. And a white designer globe without latitude and longitude lines, reminding me of why every globe has such lines which are rarely important, aren't they?

Further down on Sibyllegatan is Modernity, another Wallpaper* recommendation. Well, it sells furniture and bases which are not my taste.

Now I'm on Östermalmstorg square, where a stylish outdoor cafe/bar/restaurant called Lisapatorget is found. Outdoor cafes tend to be boring, but this one is different. Next time I will try.

Now walk down on Nybrogatan street. Time Out's recommendation, Nordiska Galleriet on the west side and a branch of DesignTorget on the east side, both of which turn out to be very interesting and even enlightening. Nordiska displays a wide range of light, chairs and sofas, and tables for living rooms. This branch of DesignTorget, unlike the one I visited last Thursday, is full of temptation. A black oven mit, pop art alarm clocks, a toilet roll stand with an eye, a designer door mat, and a mouse-shaped socket extension cover cloth.

Walk further south to the sea, and visit Carl Malmsten and Svenskt Tenn on Strandvägen street. Not my taste. The latter is recommended by almost all Stockholm city guides, but its focus on bright flowery patterns is not my cup of tea.

Now walk up northwest on Birger Jarlsgatan. Find a store called Kartell (which appears to be Italian judging from its website address) specializing in pop art style lighting and chairs. Then an amazing Orrefors and Kosta Boda (both in the same store), recommended by Wallpaper*. This store is for very stylish glasswares, and the price is not that high.

Turn left and turn left again after one block. Norrlandsgatan street has three interesting stores. First, Bookbinders, a stationery store. Then Pause, an audio-visual store with its display very elaborate. Finally, Salming, a stylish underwear maker's store. Turn left on Smålandsgatan and there is Design House Stockholm. Although neither Time Out nor Wallpaper* mentions this store, it does offer quality design furniture. The display presentation is also good here. I'm tempted to buy black doughnut-shaped ceramic salt & papper containers with a rectangular wooden tray.

One block south runs Hamngatan street. Walk to the west and opposite to Stockholm's top class department store NK is The One furniture store. Again neither Time Out nor Wallpaper* recommends it, but it's a very distinctive store because its theme on the ground floor display is Gothic. Shop attendants wear a red T-shirt with a white cross, acting like an emergency helper. The store display teaches me that I may want to buy olive green bed sheets.

Further to the west is Gallerian shopping mall. It is rather like those London boring shopping malls, but go upstairs and there is Clas Ohlson, a recommendation by "Sato memo", a Stockholm city guide written by Japanese medical researchers living here. This store lacks in style, but its range of products is amazing, almost everything you need in daily life (e.g. socket extensions, screw drivers). Customers are much more male-dominated than the stores I visited so far. :) I ask the shop assistant if they have a socket converter. I need several of them to use electric appliances that I brought from London. He tells me a surprising fact: socket converters are BANNED in Sweden. As stupid Americans moving to Sweden who are unaware that different countries adopt different voltages, often used a socket converter without changing electricity voltage, I'm told, the Swedish government decided to ban it for the safety reason. A bad example of having a big government.

Next door is another branch of Teknik Magazinet. I ask for the electronic dictionary translating Swedish to several foreign languages, the one I saw last Thursday. The shop assistant is friendly enough to allow me to use it for a while. I now realize that one of the foreign languages is Japanese. And it can be used as, say, a Japanese-Arabic dictionary as well. I decide to buy it. It's less than 500 krona (about 20 pounds).

Now I'm hungry. Have a light lunch at Coppola Caffe on the ground floor of Gallerian. Its sweet bread (winerbröd) is excellent. But mozzallera and tomato salad is mediocre. Mozzallera doesn't do a job at all. By the way, you can take bread for free here. Is this a Swedish way?

Walk further to the west and arrive at Åhlens department store, a Swedish equivalent of UK's Selfridge's in my opinion. The second floor has a reputable homeware section. Design House Stockholm (see above) and Japan's Muji are part of it. A stylish kettle I saw elsewhere sells at a cheaper price here. And it also sells another cool kettle. Sleek bathroom scales are on sale as well. The lower ground has a stationery section where Bookbinders (see above), Ordning & Reda, and again Muji are part of it. I buy a Muji pen which I will use in the kitchen to take note of what to buy next time I go to a supermarket.

Now walk up to the north on Drottninggatan street to visit Pub department store partly because I want to use a toilet. Five krona (about 30 pence) is required for using it. Another reason to visit this rather boring department store is to take photos of my face at a photoshop for the forthcoming ID card application. Once I obtain my personal identification number from the Tax Agency (see 23 August), I can get this ID card from a bank or a post office which can be used for the identification purpose in Sweden. Six passport size photos cost 159 krona (12 pounds). It's expensive, but given that I don't understand Swedish, having someone (who of course speaks English) take photo is easier for me.

Walk further up north on Drottinggatan, and there's another branch of Ordning & Reda. Find a cool mouse pad. It seems that these design stores probably limit its product range on display on purpose in branches housed in department stores like Åhlens.

Further north on the same street. Find a store called Eden. It's not that cool, but its range of products on offer is diverse including probably all the toiletries available on the market. An instant shoe shine, a wooden chopping board, and a designer toilet brush are tempting.

Next door is Bo Concept, an expensive furniture store.

Then turn right towards Japanese foods shops (mentioned in the Sato memo) on Tegnergatan street. Turns out that both are closed. They are open on Monday to Friday from 10 to 18, Saturday from 10 to 14, and closed all day on Sunday. They are NOT Japanese! :)

On the way back to a tunnelbana station, find a supermarket chain Coop Konsum. Finally I manage to buy wheat flour as there is a shop assistant to ask in front of the shelf. I also find tagliatelle which is not available on the nearest grocery store to my place.

I'm worn out when I'm back at home. But it was a pleasant journey. It's just amazing that an enormous number of interior goods stores is on offer here. And I haven't visited Södermalm, where another cluster of such shops can be found, or the world's famous Ikea store.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hello! I have to say your blog has provided a very clear and informative picture of a one day design store tour. I have been in stockholm only for a few months and I have been planning that since some time but havent really gone through it, but after this, i guess i will!