“It’s like creativity has taken Umeå by storm"
Peter Lundgren runs Umeå-based T-Post, a hybrid newspaper and t-shirt subscription service, with the whole world as its market (including a couple of superstars). Here is Peter's ultimate menu for the design-hungry traveller.
In the early 2000s, Peter Lundgren was the CEO for a small advertising agency in Stockholm. Once a week, the entire team of employees spent a day experimenting as a way to keep their creativity alive. To generate ideas for new projects they would carry out classic creative exercises, for example, take two completely unconnected objects and brainstorm over whether the intersection of the two could spawn exciting ideas.
When someone picked up a t-shirt and a morning newspaper the T-post idea was born. Ten years later Peter Lundgren has thousands of subscribers from all over the world, including superstar rapper Jay Z and the famed artist Banksy. Once a month they receive a t-shirt in their mail-box with an innovative interpretation of a current event printed on it.
Peter’s been managing the company from his home city of Umeå, often referred to as the capital of Northern Sweden, since 2006, and when he returned to Umeå from Stockholm, it felt like a whole new place to him. Creativity had taken it by storm. Suddenly, the city seemed engulfed in entrepreneurship and visionary ideas. With Umeå's upcoming year as the European Capital of Culture, several visionary building projects had received the go-ahead, and although a few years have passed since then, Umeå has continued to grow.
But, when Peter Lundgren has to explain why he’s so fond of his Umeå, he points to something completely different. It's the mood of Northern Sweden. Calm and unpretentious. The fact that Umeå is home to a design university that has been recognised as one of the world’s best – and no one in Umeå makes a big deal about it.
Stay in nautical elegance
“Of course, Umeå is an old maritime city and at the end of the 19th century the Stora Hotellet hotel opened in the city centre as a combined sailors’ lodgings and city hotel. The hotel was completely renovated ahead of the Capital of Culture Year of 2014, and they've really gone all-in on the nautical interior design in each of the more than 80 rooms. It's visually both calming and tantalising at the same time, and it has won several well-deserved prestigious awards since reopening. And by the way the hotel bar is a must of you want to meet interesting and lovely people, every night of the week.”
Stora Hotellet, Storgatan 46
The creative heart of Umeå
“Väven the cultural centre, most commonly referred to as simply the Cultural centre, has really changed the basic visual image of Umeå. An architectural landmark that you can’t and shouldn’t miss. It’s as if somebody took a gigantic tin of white paint and poured it over half of the city. Apparently, Snöhetta and White who designed the building, had an idea that it should make you think of a birch tree, to accentuate the fact that Umeå is the city of the birch tree. There's no better place for visitors to Umeå to go to get a broad and complete picture of what the city has to offer. It's the place to go for the best concerts, for a fantastic library, and for the hotel U&me located on the top floors. You can also rent rooms for creative meetings, rooms that are also used for everything from the weigh-ins before MMA matches to retro second-hand markets.”
Väven, Storgatan 46 A
The perfect mix of denim and beards
“A visit to the Utopia shopping mall in the city centre is a must for the best selection of fashion. You’ll find Swedish design favourites such as Weekday, Monki and Volt, but my hottest tip is So So clothing, a small cool concept store run by two guys who have set out to become the largest and most affordable custom-made denim company in the world. It has only been going for a few years but it has already received a lot of attention and loads of jeans-crazy regulars. They share their premises with John Q’s barber shop, the hippest barbers you’ll find in Umeå right now - traditional shaving with a blade and male haircutting.”
SOSO Concept Store, Utopia Shopping Center, Rådhusesplanaden 2A
Delicatessen with fine design accessories
“If you’re ever in other cities and sometimes feel a bit lost in the food hall if you don’t know precisely what’s what in the meat counter, well it’s the exact opposite at delicatessen DUÅ, run by twin brothers Per and Lars Åkerlund. Visitors are always incredibly well received and no questions are too stupid. This is also the place to go for the best range of carefully selected design accessories for the kitchen. DUÅ has recently branched out and employed two of Sweden's best bartenders and now opens for dinners Thursdays to Saturdays, under the name Open/Closed, offering exciting themed menus and innovative drinks. Don’t miss it!”
DUÅ Delikatessbutik, Storgatan 46
A tasteful destination in the middle of nowhere
“When I want to get away from Umeå and get closer to nature, I love going to Borgafjäll, a tiny and completely unexploited mountain village right on the Norwegian border. It has the most stylish hotel of all of Sweden’s mountain destinations - Hotell Borgafjäll - which was designed by the distinguished British-Swedish architect Ralph Erskine, some time during the 1950s. When the Swedish Institute produced a list of 24 architectural landmarks in the country, the hotel in Borgafjäll was naturally on the list. But in this village of about 100 permanent residents, there’s also a fantastic little restaurant called Borgagården which has been on the White Guide’s list of the best restaurants in the country for several years."
Hotell Borgafjäll, Avasjövägen 10
Stunning architecture meets world-class art
“Five years ago Bildmuseet moved from Gammlia just outside the city and into the centre, beautifully located down at the river, in the area known as the Artistic campus with industrial design education as its closest neighbour. Today, Bildmuseet is an eye-catching building, 36 metres high and with panel of Siberian larch. And the exhibitions are outstanding. In fact, it has been awarded the European Museum Of The Year. The comprehensive exhibition of the lives and works of Charles and Ray Eames last year is one of the best I’ve ever seen. And the well-stocked book store alone is also worth a visit. But there are plenty more reasons to stroll down to Konstnärligt campus, not least Sliperiet, Umeå University's innovation centre. Sliperiet is open to the general public on Wednesdays, when during FabLab you can test out lots of new technical stuff for yourself.”
Bildmuseet, Östra strandgatan 30B